June 14th, 2006

(no subject)

I have just sent an exasperated email to abebooks.com, asking them to consider some kind of flag on their book listings (or attached to a seller) to try to distinguish booksellers, who actually have the books they list in stock, from fulfilment houses, who do not have the books in stock but will order them on demand. While the latter are fine and dandy if the book you're trying to order is actually in print, they're completely useless if either of the following are true:
  • The book is just about to go out of print, but is still listed as "in print". However the publisher has no stock so attempts to order it are doomed to failure;
  • The publisher stuffed up when listing the ISBN and thus, if someone tries to order by ISBN, they will get the wrong thing. (However, someone who can check their stock by title may actually be able to provide the right item.)

In fairness to abebooks, this isn't a problem which is confined to them (Amazon marketplace sellers have had the same problem with the first issue above), but it's _stunningly_ annoying -- after three attempts to order a particular book for rotwang's forthcoming birthday, I gave up. (Amazon seller: listed book, had no stock. US publisher lists it as in stock, but points to specific UK site to order it: UK site shows it as "on order" but admits, when asked direct question, that the likelihood of getting an "oh, sorry, we can't get this" email in a week or so is very high. Abebooks seller lists book and also has no stock. Gah!)