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Messages: BM Health

Purpose of this forum

My goal with this forum is to have a discussion about the health of the BookMooch service.

For example, should BM's point system be modified? Do the stats point to certain healthy or unhealthy things?

One way to understand what's going on the BM economy is to look at the BookMooch stats page at

You can see charts, as well as download CSV files that import easily into Excel.

I also make the entire BM database available in anonymized form at:

Some people have downloaded the data feed and come up with their own charts and analysis, such as Brett Tomlinson's recent ones:

You're welcome to post your thoughts here, as well as do any


John Buckman
4 years ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(4 years ago)I confess to not reading all of the posts but only some of them. I know I am not posting many books on either site that I do. I only post enough books in either place to cover what I need. I just don't have the budget to keep a large stash of credits anywhere. I keep 5-10 pts on each site and that's it. I used to buy cheap WL books just to post but now I can't. I would love a TBR feature here that only I could see and showed if a book was WL. Although I find that here, just because a book is WL doesn't mean it will be ordered. I have many times posted WL books here only to have them just sit. I think I have 2 of them in my inventory now. I don't want to have to email these people and beg them to mooch my book. I'll post a few more when I get to spend a few more pts. I do have a couple of WL books available now but they're out of country and I don't really want them bad enough to pay 3 pts for them. Especially since I can't afford to mail international anymore. I do still occasionally mooch a non-WL book but only if my library doesn't have it and I need it for a series. I just have too big of a TBR pile here to mooch any old book just to use up points. A Nag Feature would not make me happy. I noticed that a DVD swapping site I do is sending emails now like this and I find them really annoying. I'll repost it when I'm good and ready. I really try to relist books on the same site that I get them from.
(4 years ago)I'm one of those people who stopped listing because I have too many points and not anything to spend them on. (I'm not listing at any other book site either for the same reason...I have books on my PBS WL that have been there since 2006.) One of the reasons I've been discouraged with BM is that so many of my mooches go bad. I attempted mooches 16 times in 2010 and 3 times in 2011. Of those, 1 was lost in the mail, 2 were cancelled by the poster because the poster had listed it on another site and 2 I cancelled because of non-response. That's over 25% failed mooches.
(4 years ago)I think the most important thing that is needed to make Bookmooch yet more successful is more members. I, too, have mostly stopped adding inventory because I feel that I have enough invested in Bookmooch. When my points balance goes down a bit, I'll add more inventory instead of giving the books to charity shops. I also wonder about limiting the number of copies of a book which may be added to inventory? For example, most of those Da Vinci codes are never going anywhere!
(4 years ago)Your nagging idea might work, except on users like me who hurt the BM economy by mooching titles here, but then listing them on competitor's sites when I am done. We need to fix the causes for that first. For me, I do it because my BM points are essentially worthless, since I haven't been able to get a WL book in nearly a year now. I am not quite at this point yet, I am still posting books every few weeks, but not for the points. It's because I love Bookmooch and I have made quite a few mooching buddies internationally. And I angel mooch. However, "nagging" would not encourage me to post more often. A small point incentive for posting wishlisted books might, but probably not since I don't need the points. A TBR list (viewable only by me) which showed how many wishlists a book I was contemplating reading next is on might help. We have a catch-22. Fewer people are posting books because they don't need the points. They are not using their points because their wishlist books are not being posted. They don't post wishlist books because they don't need the points. It is an evil cycle;). I don't know what would fix it. BTW, I have a few mooching buddies who have told me they will be mooching less, if at all, because they have received eReaders.
(4 years ago)I am like you Michael, points are nearly valueless to me now. I send out books around the world, the points pile up, I give them to charity, send more books, etc. A couple of ingredients now seem to be lacking for me - people willing to send books to me, and the inability to snap up available books within a millisecond of them being listed. I'm sorry to write this because I love the concept of Bookmooch.
Sally C
(4 years ago)Oh, & another thing... When mooches are received they can then be entered directly into the TBR list, in the same way that received mooches are entered into one's LibraryThing account at the point of receipt, rather than necessitating the manual listing of each received book.
(4 years ago)John said: "I've also thought about the occasional "nag" to people who mooched a very in-demand book over (say) 6 months ago, letting them know that lots of other people want to mooch the book, and it'd be great if they read it soon and regifted it. Just an idea..." To really kick along the onward movements of more popular books, could you possibly develop a TBR inventory? That perhaps only the BM member would see, that could show who/what & how many wishlists a book is on. The member may then choose to read a highly-wished-for book next. 1) In an effort to earn themselves more points, & 2) In an effort to keep those highly-wished-for books moving out to others. I know that, that is certainly how I would use a TBR list. And TBR books could then easily be moved to inventory list with the click of a 'move to inventory' tab.
'Recent' feed broken

The 'recent' listing has been empty for the past couple of days.

2 months, 23 days ago
1 comment

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(2 months, 22 days ago)It's fixed. The 'recent' feed is a good place to look for inspiration if nothing on your wishlist comes up and you've points to use.
How are we doing? January 2014

The latest published statistics - - date from February 2013. How are we doing at present?

1 year ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(3 months, 6 days ago)very interesting, thanks for posting
Melanie C.
(3 months, 8 days ago)Statistics now show to January 2014:
(4 months, 18 days ago)How are we doing, a year after I originally pondered the question?
(5 months ago)So nice to see that a response was given to this very basic request.
BM health - recent statistics

Are there any BM statistics more recent than July 2011?

3 years ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(3 years ago)You can look at the more "raw" data, from the customized statistics view and choose CSV export. You do get a sense of numbers declining.
(3 years ago)It would be nice if BM statistics were updated regularly so we could see how many books are available and an indication of mooching activity.
Fewer active members, thanks to the inactive accounts cleanup project should mean more real BM activity.
If statistics used to be produced regularly, shouldn't techies be looking at what stopped this happening?

(3 years ago)'fraid not. You can check the members by country list to get a fairly accurate sense of current members (Canada down to under 550 from a high of over 1100 a couple of years ago). The forums are pretty quiet, and the recent feed doesn't move terribly fast, but there is very little way of telling how many active members are actively mooching, as far as I can tell.
Brett Tomlinson's charts and analysis

Brett Tomlinson did an extensive analysis and charting of BM's data, which you can read here:

One thing Brett did right is to only count active members in all his stats. That's the equivalent of "adjusting for inflation" and makes his numbers much more relevant.

There are six charts in particular that I find interesting. I'm reproducing them here with Brett's comments and then my comments after.

 When a user adds a book to Inventory, they can add optional Condition Notes to describe the condition of the book. Not all books offered on BookMooch are in pristine condition, and many users prefer to request a book whose condition is known. Condition Notes have been provided for about 30% of the books in users' Inventories. This percentage has not changed significantly over time.

I was surprised that condition notes are supplied as often as this. My guess is that the majority of users don't supply condition notes, but that the most active, veteran moochers do, and that these veterans have larger-than-average inventories, thus bringing this percentage up.

This has diminished slightly from a high in February 2008, from about 40% to 35% of books having condition notes, but seems stable since 2009.

 One of the strengths of BookMooch is the ability to trade books with people in other countries. A domestic transaction occurs when the book Giver and Recipient reside in the same country. An international transaction occurs when the book Giver and Recipient are in different countries. Presently, 80% of transactions are domestic -- 68% are US-to-US and 12% are within other countries. 20% of transactions are international. The proportion of non-US usage of BookMooch has been growing slowly over time.

I was happy to see that both International mooching (ie, mooching across borders) as well as use of BM outside of the USA are both growing.

 This chart shows the (average) number of books received per active user per month. Although there has been a dip in their number, the active users continue to receive books at the same rate.

It was interesting to see that the average BM member trades 1.5 books per month and has been pretty stable at that level.

 82% of books received by users come from outside BookMooch. The remaining 18% are books that have been previously-received from a BookMooch user, read, and re-sent

One of the stats I've thought about adding to each member's bio page is the amount of "regifting" they do, which I define as "giving via BM a book that you received via BM".

That's why I was interested to see that about 1 in 5 mooched books is a regifting. I do wonder how that works out in terms of demographics: if certain members do most of the regifting or it's a broad based phenomena.

I've also thought about the occasional "nag" to people who mooched a very in-demand book over (say) 6 months ago, letting them know that lots of other people want to mooch the book, and it'd be great if they read it soon and regifted it. Just an idea...

 For the purposes of these statistics, a user is considered to be "Active" at a certain point in time if they have logged into BookMooch at least once in the 60 days prior to that point in time. If the user has not logged in within 60 days, they are considered to be "Inactive". The 60 day cutoff is somewhat arbitrary. At present on BookMooch, if a user stops logging in, then eventually their account will be suspended, and the user (and their Inventory of books) drops from view. But the account is still intact, and the site makes it very easy for a lapsed user to return to BookMooch and to reactivate his/her account unchanged.

The chart shows a decline in active users in 2010, down 36% from its peak in September 2009. This decline is puzzling. The BookMooch site remains healthy and has received frequent incremental enhancements over time; its members are engaged and for the most part contented. External factors may be responsible. One possibility is that the drop in activity in 2010 is a (delayed) reaction to the global economic recession which occurred from late-2007 to late-2009, as fewer users could afford the postage to send books. The opposite possibility is that the recession triggered a surge in activity from late-2007 to late-2009, as people bought fewer new books and used BookMooch instead. If this is the case, then 2010 isn't so much a decline, as a reversion to prior trend, when the economy began to recover and the bubble of thrifty users subsided.

I brought this up with Mark (my admin of admins) and he thought that possibly that 2009 hump might be due to a large amount of fraud that was tried in 2009, some creating as many as 500 accounts, that the admins successfully shut down. Perhaps.

Another factor is that BM use has a seasonality to it, and we always drop way down in the fall of each year, and jump back up after the new year.

Here is a chart I made, of mooches per day (click on the chart for a full size version).

A few things I'll note about this chart:

1) you can see clear annual seasonality, with the fall of each year experiencing a 50% decrease in use, with the lowest BM use right before the New Year. Usage then spikes back up to normal levels.

2) Nonetheless, you can see a clear 15% to 20% decrease in mooches per day in 2010 (1500/day) vs 2008 and 2009 (between 1800/day and 2000/day)

So, from these charts I do think that 2008/2009 was the peak of BM usage, and that 2010 was overall slower.

However, BM is still handling about 550,000 mooches per year, which isn't too shabby.

I have some ideas for improving things a bit, that I'll be detailing in future blog posts.


John Buckman
4 years ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(3 years ago)since the three point system has been brought, i have noticed a huge decline in exchanges of books - from my point of view and a few others...... i think bookmooch needs to think again about its three points international mooch. my wishlist is getting smaller and smaller, because the good ones i want dont seem to be put on bookmooch, and the ones in the past i would have been prepared to gamble two points on, i can no longer afford to do. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah........ i am no longer a happy moocher. anyone got points to give away or sell????? hmmmm, bookmooch might find itself facing a black market for points! recently someone mooched a heavy book from me, i told her it wasnt worth it for me to send the book to her, due to postage being so expensive and the book being heavy... when she offered me more points for the book, my ears started to prick up!!! that would be fair in my eyes. more points for a heavy book. a while ago, i was desperate for more points, and put all my much loved books on bookmooch. they went quickly. i used up the points to get books i wanted to read, which are no longer popular. now i am stuck with them - no one else wants to mooch them, plus, i am left with all the other rubbishy books on my inventory that no one wants to mooch.... sorry bookmooch, i am slowly becoming disillusioned, if i cannot earn points somehow, i cannot play :(
(4 years ago)I usually will check the most-wished list before going to a book sale to see if there are books that are people are looking for. Sometimes I am very successful and sometimes I am not. If I am on the fence on whether to buy a book to read, the deciding factor is usually whether I think somebody will mooch it after I am done reading it.
Mike & Jill Bemis
(4 years ago)Hello - with respect, I do not believe 'nagging' emails are a good idea. I have never participated in bookcrossing because of what I believe to be the possessiveness of the original book owners, who come across to me as believing that by putting a sticker in the book it is 'theirs' forever, no matter what someone else may want to do with it. I have always been thrilled that BookMooch is not possessive in this way - I do a lot of angeling, I give books I've gotten through here as presents, and sometimes they are books I've wanted for a while. To start receiving notes that I need to give those back to the site, as if they somehow belonged to the site instead of me or the person to whom I sent them on to, seems very intrusive and unnecessary. From the general tenor of the comments it seems that everyone else is waiting for someone else to start listing more books first. And that people are in the current economic climate becoming less interested in swapping books on an equal point or a like-for-like basis. This is frustrating but I personally find more value in swapping used books for books that I want than in trying to sell them for pennies plus shipping and then buying books online for pennies plus shipping. I also find it incredibly frustrating that the majority of US users on this site will not send internationally, and that they do not understand how proportionally cheaper it is to do so with the US postal service as compared to anywhere else in the world (I am an American who has lived outside the US for 12 years). But everyone has to manage their own finances. I would be happy to spend 3 points to mooch internationally if that encouraged other people to send more internationally. I am not sure if removing the .1 point for marked a book as received is a good idea, as this is not always done automatically. But I wonder if removing the .1 for listing a book might work better, as you do get the points for sending them, and this might help mitigate the problem of overwhelmed new joiners over-listing at the start and then disappearing. As ever, I am very impressed with the good work you continue to do with the site, John, and am sure that we will be in rude health again soon.
(4 years ago)Nagging people to regift popular books does not sound too thrilling to me.. I have received books that I do not want to repost due to their condition. Sometimes I want to keep the book - and I think I should be allowed to do so - regardless of the book's popularity. I give my books unconditionally, and believe that should be reciprocal.
(4 years ago)I agree with Stephano's observation about points. It would be interesting to check whether BookMooch is experiencing "point inflation", that is, what is the average number of points available per active user, and is the average increasing over time? Points are created by the add-to-inventory and mark-received bonuses (net 0.2 per transaction), by international transactions (net 1.0 per transaction), by lost books, and when users who have a negative balance go inactive. Points are destroyed when users remove books from Inventory (rare), and when users who have a positive balance go inactive. If point inflation is occurring, then eventually there will be too many points chasing too few books. If I have a surplus of points, then each point has less utility to me. I will probably mooch books that I otherwise might not. Then that book languishes at low priority on my to-be-read shelf, out of BookMooch circulation likely forever. In the extreme, if points become way too abundant, then people could start mooching books for other reasons than to read them, e.g. just because they like the covers, to cut them up and make ransom notes, etc. A little point inflation is probably OK, but high inflation (or deflation) can hurt the BookMooch ecosystem.
(4 years ago)Thanks for your analysis and comments John. Just FYI, chart #3 above has the incorrect JPG.
(4 years ago)Re: decrease in mooches per day. If you compare mooches-per-day with the number of listed books, you find that they are correlated. Mooches per day are about 0.4 % of listed books, and that hasn't changed much in the life of the site. Therefore, mooches are decreasing because people are adding fewer books (perhaps there are so many points around that there are less incentives to enlarge the inventory, or maybe it's the increases in postal costs).
(4 years ago)John I would expect a decline in mooches from Australia to the US as we have recently been hit with extra charge of $9 AUD ontop of postage due to new security measures for parcels over 453g. This creates a substantial cost to sending a larger book international so I know many of us here in Australia will only be sending books under this weight from now on. Thanks for the analysis and I LOVE Bookmooch!!
International mooch bank

High postage rates in some countries makes BM to expensive for some international mooches. This is an idea that may help.

An international mooch bank could be made.
* A moocher could purchase points. Say $2 for 1point
* This money would be used to purchase a book for the users inventory
- the book would be purchased in the country of the users choice (say the US). And would never actually be sent to the international moocher.
* Moochers from the country where the book is purchased will be able to mooch this book as if it was from the international moocher.

So BM would act as a middle man making it cheaper for international moochers to obtain points.

Please point out what you do not like about this but also say if you would participate.

4 years ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(4 years ago)I was thinking this would only be available in countries that do the vast majority of their mooching internationally, say countries like Peru, Australia and many many others that have too few members to have a domestic mooch market. The system will have to be monitored for abuse but if purchased points could only be used to mooch internationally this would help avoid some abuse. This would make the system quite complicated though.
(4 years ago)The idea is interesting but I wonder if it couldn't do some damage, by encouraging anyone whose postal rates mean points are typically more expensive than 2$ each (and I think that may include even US users who don't regularly get multibooks requests) to just buy points, instead of providing books to the collective BM inventory.
(4 years ago)Sorry Cara I had edited by post while you were writing yours (so there is no longer any mention of 5points) Yes postage is an unfortunate problem. I find that I have to send international books via surface mail for BM not to be too expensive for me. I was thinking this bank would be useful for countries like Australia where second hand books are expensive and postage is also very expensive compared to the UK where second hand books are cheap and postage from UK to Austrialia is less then a third of postage from Australia to the UK.
(4 years ago)While I like to see people brainstorming ideas to add more books to the Bookmooch inventory, I don't see this one working (at least not as you describe it). For one thing, I can't imagine spending 5 points for a book. There are very few used books I would spend 3 points on. 5 points works out to around $12-15. I can't think of many used books I would want to spend that much for. And if I have money to spend to put toward Bookmooch I would use it to pay for postage to mail books. The problem isn't that there aren't enough books around to post onto Bookmooch, the problem for many of us is the money to pay for postage to mail the books.