re: Followup to points discussion
While the Paul Krugman article is an interesting lesson in macroeconomics, I think that it's applicability to BookMooch breaks down at some point. After all, in classic inflation, the price of goods goes up because too many dollars are chasing too few goods. That isn't the problem at BM--the price of the "good" has remained stable no matter how many "dollars" are out there. Thus, I don't see how reducing the number of points that people have is going to increase trading. For every person who says that he or she is not going to add any books to their inventory because they have more points than they know what to do with, there will be another person like me who adds books because they wish to get rid of them and then mooches freely because they have a lot of points. Those extra .1 points have given me a lot of freedom.
I belong to both PBS and BookMooch. At PBS I'm almost out of points. Although I add to my bookshelf, the number of books requested from me has gone way down, but the number of wishlisted books I've received in the last year or so--many of them books I've been waiting for since I joined PBS in early 2007--has gone way up. So, even though I received an initial three points for joining and also purchased three more points for cash early on, I'm now close to running out of points.
So, as Krugman talks about in his article, I'm currently hoarding those few points I have left. If a book is available in quantity at PBS, I won't request it, assuming that I'll be able to obtain it later if my points total picks up. OTOH, if the book is available here at BookMooch, I'll go ahead and order it because I have an abundance of points. I'll even order books that are of somewhat questionable interest to me because I simply don't, at this point, have to worry about how I'm going to "pay" for it.
The PBS wishlist works on a FIFO system, AND it tells you where you are on the waiting list; for many of my books, I'm getting close or have even reached number 1 in line. But, with so few points, I have to be extremely judicious in which books I request, so I've even been putting some of my wishlist books on hold, which is rather a bummer when I've already been waiting for a long period of time.
The point is that having a lot of points may or may not discourage a member from adding to his or her inventory, but a shortage of points will absolutely keep someone from ordering an available book. In the end, how could it possibly help BookMooch's trading volume to make points scarcer?
Rather than reducing the number of points members can collect, perhaps a more creative solution is required. Failing something really clever, maybe, as at PBS, people could sell their points in these forums. If John doesn't like that idea, how about donating points to a "bank" that members can draw on when their supply of points is low? Perhaps someone can come up with a kind of interest system for borrowers and/or some type of reward for donors.
One thing that I much prefer at PBS (there are other things I prefer at BM) is the FIFO system for the wishlist. Although I've waited a very long time for many of the books I've been getting lately, the fact is that I have some level of confidence that, eventually, I will get the book. If not, I know that it's not because someone else saw an email sooner than I did or because someone else happened to log on just after the book became available but simply because not enough copies of that book are coming into the system to satisfy demand. I realize some people here dislike the FIFO system, but I feel it is much fairer--and I kind of think that it might help some people, at least, "spend" their points.
One thing I'm totally against and really hope that it doesn't happen is raising the points needed to obtain books in high demand. One point for one book (international mooches aside) seems both the fairest way to do it and also the least complicated. Please don't change that.
2 years ago