18 June 2007

Book (sellers) in Review

The first wonderful thing I found out about the internet was that is was a marvelous place to buy books. I started out by finding a nearly pristine copy of Kate Seredy's The Open Gate, as well as other books I'd loved in the past, like The Green Poodles and the Windy Foot and Anne H. White novels. E-Bay was the source of most of my bound issues of St. Nicholas magazine, and I have also partaken freely of that most evil of sites, bookfinder.com and Amazon marketplace. I've bought old favorites, Christmas and other holiday books, even biographies and classics.

Today two of the three books I ordered from Amazon Marketplace last Wednesday (the other, according to an e-mail from the seller, was put into the mail today) arrived. Both of these were hardback, one in pristine condition and one with a minor amount of dustjacket wear. The two of them cost me less than $10 with the postage (in both cases the postage was more than the price of the book). The one coming in the mail is another hardback, not sure of the condition, for only 99 cents (minus the postage).

It's a funny thing about used books in that most cases suddenly the hardbacks cost less than the trade paperback or paperback published later. For instance, the 99 cent book is Puleo's Dark Tide, about the Boston molasses disaster, which I have been wanting for ages. I've been fascinated with this event since an article about its 50th anniversary appeared in the Providence Journal. [The story here.] I have checked out Marketplace copies of this book for a while. Since I want a cheap price for a good book from a seller with a good rating (I try not to buy from anyone with a rating under 98 percent), finding a good combination takes time. This time I found the paperback version for no less than $4.95. However, the cheapest hardback was at fifty cents; I opted for the one that cost a little more with a better-rated seller.

Of the two books I got today, First Friend, Katharine Rogers' book about the history of man's association with the dog, was one I have wanted since it was published, but $25 seemed a bit much. It's now out of print and did not look as if it were heading for a trade paper version, hence the Marketplace buy. The other book is called The Curse of the Narrows, another fascinating nonfiction book, this time about the 1917 disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where munitions headed overseas for use in "the Great War" exploded in the harbor, killing an appalling number of people. I saw this as a special on the History Channel some time ago and figured that for $1.25, I could "read all about it."

I have to say that I wish people would do better reviews on both Amazon Marketplace and on e-Bay. "As described" and "ok" tell me nothing. I always try to give as much detail as possible and praise to the seller if really good.

The reviews that annoy me the most are the ones that give the seller a bad rating because they didn't like what was sold to them! I have seen so many of these that it's actually pathetic. It's not the seller's fault if the story on the DVD turned out to be stupid or you didn't like the book! Review their service, not the product!!! (Conversely, I also find it irritating when people review books, etc. on Amazon.com by telling everyone how fast the service was and how they would order from Amazon again. Sometimes I am unfamiliar with a product and want to read reviews of it, not reviews of Amazon's service. I guess they can't tell the difference.)

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