Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Ordering Travails

Today's a holiday so I decided to pay a visit to Power Books and order some books I would normally not be able to obtain.

Normally, I print out on bond paper the book's title, its author/editor, and its 10-digit ISBN. I found the last part important because it can mean the difference between the bookstore ordering you Christine Freehan's Shadow Game instead of Glen Cook's Shadow Games (well, at least it was technically still "in the genre"). True enough, by the time I got to the customer service section, a couple was having problems with the book they ordered because it wasn't the one they wanted (the book's title was something as common as Rosary and the customer service people showed them an entire list of possible books).

Anyway, despite my list, the entire ordeal was a huge time sink. I spent around 45 minutes to an hour waiting for customer service to process my book orders. To be fair, there were a lot of people at the time (is that good news for the bookstore that they had lots of customers on a holiday?). However, my caveat there is that the last time I ordered books from them during my office lunch break, it wasn't any better (in fact, I returned to the bookstore after work because my 1-hour lunch break apparently wasn't enough time).

One source of the long wait time is the fact that I have to fill out forms for each and every book that I'm ordering. The search engine is computerized (they're using Ingram's ipage) but everything else is done by hand.

Anyway, here are some of the books I ordered and here's the feedback they gave me:
  • Magic in the Mirrorstone: Tales of Fantasy edited by Steve Berman. Apparently, the bookstore wouldn't let me order this book because they were getting their own copies. Now I appreciate customer service informing me that the bookstore is having their own shipment (thus making it cheaper when it's finally on the shelves) but it does not alleviate my concerns on whether the book will actually arrive. Also, it's uncommon for bookstores to stock "old" books. Magic in the Mirrorstone was released in February of this year. Technically, if they were getting this title, the book buyer theoretically would have ordered it either in late 2007 or early this year. Anyway, placed a reservation which was the only option they gave me.
  • Unwelcome Bodies by Jennifer Pelland. Yay, no hassles getting this book.
  • Worlds of Their Own edited by James Lowder. This book isn't going to be released until two weeks from now but I wanted to place my order because it's unlikely that the bookstore will be stocking books from Paizo (for the record, the bookstore has only one Paizo book--C. L. Moore's Black God's Kiss--and I don't think it's working out well for them). Anyway, the bookstore told me they couldn't acquire the title because the supplier (Ingram/ipage) didn't have it in stock. After more coaxing from the customer service lady, I discovered that I can try again in the future when the supplier might have more stocks.
  • One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak. So far so good.
  • A Whisper of Blood: A Collection of Modern Vampire Stories edited by Ellen Datlow. Highly skeptical because this was a Barnes & Noble exclusive (by the way, this is actually two books in one, the Blood is Not Enough and A Whisper of Blood anthologies). Anyway, long story short, I need to find a friend or a relative who can actually order this book for me from the Barnes & Noble site... (I don't have a credit card.)
  • Heaven's Bones: A Novel of the Mists by Samantha Henderson. Another pre-order book but one more readily available.
  • Gratia Placenti: For the Sake of Pleasing edited by Jason B. Sizemore and Gill Ainsworth. Check.
  • The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia. Not that I haven't read this book but I want my own copy to loan to friends. Like Worlds of Their Own, the supplier is out of copies (so this is a "good problem" for Sedia because the book's been out for a few months now and apparently it's proving popular enough that the supplier runs out. Either that or the publisher isn't shipping out enough copies but hopefully it's the former.).
  • The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia. The supplier had a few copies available so yay for me.


Unknown said...

It's nice to see that the Apex books are easy to order :)

Charles said...

Yup! Looking forward to reading your stories!

banzai cat said...

Tasty selection charles. I miss ordering books meself. *sigh*