Friday, February 20, 2009

The Book Bind.

Everyone has to make sacrifices in light of the financial crisis.  Even me.

Instead of resorting to borrowing leisurely reading from the library, which would be the logical and practical option, I've been using the next best thing: Amazon Marketplace.  Rather than pay full price for a book that's delivered to me shrinkwrapped in such a way that the book is inevitably damaged (will Amazon ever ship me a paperback that doesn't have corner damage? I'm not anal-retentive, I promise!), I pay a significantly lower price for a book that often defies the multi-tiered evaluation system that the marketplace lists.

When I say "defies," it definitely goes both ways.  My most recent two purchases are examples of this problem.  They both came today.  One was a hardcover book that I paid $20.00 for (around $8.00 below Amazon's price).  The other was another hardcover that put me out around $5.00 ($30.00 below price).  The $20.00 book was listed as "Used--Like New."  The $5.00 book was listed as "Used--Fair."

Well, my $25.00 total bought me a $20.00 book with rips all over the dust jacket and highlighting insde, as well as $5.00 hardcover in pristine condition.  I double-checked the orders just to make sure.  It was as if I had entered a Twilight Zone of book purchasing.  How is that even possible? I think that the worst thing is that with Amazon, a feedback system doesn't do a whole lot, especially with books.  I suppose if a CD or a DVD is damaged, the seller can offer to send you a replacement case.  But even that rarely works out: I remember being bribed by a DVD seller with a replacement case that never came for a DVD that came without half a case, all for a positive review (Of course I gave the review, though.  I know, I know, I'm part of the problem.).  Literally.  With a book, though, it's almost as if there's no recourse available.

I wish that there was a better way to measure book quality on Amazon Marketplace, but I guess that such a practice would discourage sellers from listing their books, and the whole system would suffer as a whole, dwindling to almost eBay levels.  I guess that the two cliched lessons to learn from these experiences are "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Also, caveat emptor.

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