|Vass (vass) wrote,|
@ 2013-01-14 08:52 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||books: acquisitions|
Sunday night: I suddenly want to own a copy of Les Misérables. I do a quick search to find out which translation sounds most appealing to me. Hmm. There's a history of English translations taking out 'digressive' chunks and putting them in the appendices, or leaving them out altogether. Yuck. But the most recent Vintage edition is a new, complete translation. According to Readings' website, they have it in stock in their Lygon Street store. I make a trip to Carlton, find a parking space with some difficulty, and go look for the book. It's not on the fiction shelf. Oh wait, there's a separate spiral rack (not in the fiction section) for Vintage paperbacks. It's not there either. I go to the front desk. The sales assistant goes to look for me... in the 'new books' section. Why didn't I know that that was where a 2009 paperback edition of a 2007 translation of an 1862 novel would be shelved? There is a copy there, but it's not the edition I wanted: they must not have updated their web databas in realtime, or else it sold while I was on my way. But there's a copy at their St Kilda store. He can ask them to get it for me. He takes down my first name only, and doesn't ask for a contact number, which should have been my sign. He said it "should be there after six."
Monday evening: I show up at six, having had just as much trouble parking (it is Carlton, after all.) The sales assistant doesn't know anything about it, and the book isn't there, although when he looks it up, it seems it did leave the St Kilda store, it just didn't arrive in Carlton. He offers to walk over to their warehouse, five minutes away, but he doesn't expect it'll be there either. As indeed it isn't. He suggests I call them tomorrow to find out if it's arrived yet or not. I suggest I leave my number and they can call me. He says that this would require their staff to remember to call me, which is apparently not a service that they provide. I tell him thanks, but I think I'll order from the Book Depository after all. He says okay. On my way out, he calls "But it will probably be in tomorrow."
Just in case, I phoned Readings St Kilda tonight. He was very nice, but said that they'd all sold out, and by the way that Carlton apparently told him the book did arrive. Maybe they gave it to someone else?
If I'd just ordered from the Book Depository to begin with, I still wouldn't have the book yet (7-10 working days is their usual delivery time) but I wouldn't have had to park my car or to deal with people.
(Other book chains in town: Dymocks and Collins. In both cases, they don't actually sell books, they sell fungible book-units. At least online retailers can deal with the concept that I want to buy something specific, not just whatever blockbusters they have on hand.)
Edited: because I'm petty like that, I just calculated the cost in petrol of the two trips so far. It is four dollars, or nearly a third of the price of the book.
And because I have to say something: I know about the working conditions and the pay rates of the people picking and packing the books for the Book Depository and Amazon. However, I have no assurance that the books at Readings got to Australia from the US/UK ethically either. And if one of those stores was willing to put in a check-box with "check here to add $2.50 to your order and make sure our warehouse workers were adequately compensated, permitted to organise, and working in decent conditions" and backed that up with independent inspectors, I would totally check that box. Every time.