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Amazon Still Has 3D Book Info Wrong

August 9, 2007
Roscoe, N.Y.

As an experiment, yesterday I ordered copies of my new book 3D Programming for Windows from both bn.com and Amazon.com.

Barnes & Noble's page for the book indicated "Usually ships within 24 hours - Same Day delivery in Manhattan." I was in the city for a few hours yesterday and could have taken delivery, but they later sent me an email indicating an "unexpected delay ... will be shipped within the next 1-5 business days."

With Amazon, however, the situation is much crazier:

October???? October???? What the @%&$!!!!

I was actually on the phone with Amazon customer support yesterday, in just slightly less than freak-out mode: "I am the author of this book," I said, "and I know it's been published. I have seen a copy. This October date is just wrong!" They indicated that they get their information from the publisher, and kindly suggested I contact my publisher, which of course I did last Monday shortly after I got some emails from people who had pre-ordered the book from Amazon and were getting the same misinformation.

It's human error, of course. ("This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error," as a famous computer once said.) I figure somebody confused month code 08 with October — a frequent mistake made by the Latin majors hired for minimum wage as summer temps.

But, it's Amazon. They're the fearless warriors of the online jungle. What they say goes. It's like the concept of wikiality — even though it's wrong, it's reality by definition.

So yesterday and today I am suffering a severe case of "Amazon.com Freak-Out Syndrome" (ACFOS), feeling powerless and insignificant at the bottom of the food chain. I am sure this problem will be fixed in a week or two — perhaps even in a matter of days — but if you consider that most book sales occur right after publication, you'll understand why I feel like I'm being totally screwed.


Update (9:55 AM EDT): Shortly after I posted this blog entry, a WPF programmer in London emailed to say that he had ordered the book from Amazon UK, and delivery was scheduled for mid-August. So apparently it's only the US Amazon that has it wrong....


Update (10:48 AM EDT): A reader from Stockholm says that his favorite online bookstore is scheduled to deliver the book tomorrow. So there's the problem: We're living in the wrong country to get books delivered promptly.


Comments:

"I figure somebody confused month code 08 with October — a frequent mistake made by the Latin majors hired for minimum wage as summer temps. "

Sounds like a despective opinion about latin people. Note to myself: Do not buy this book, the author does not deserve it.

— A Latin (ex)reader, Wed, 29 Aug 2007 22:13:41 -0400 (EDT)

A "Latin major" is a college student who majors in the Latin language, which is the language that was spoken in Ancient Rome. A Latin major might get confused about month 08 meaning October because the Latin prefix for 8 is "octo," as in "octogon" and "octopus." The word "October" actually means "eighth month," which it once was. Now it's the tenth month.

— Charles Petzold, Wed, 29 Aug 2007 23:07 EDT

Just to add my own experience to this saga: I had pre-ordered the book from Amazon.ca on May 30th. The shipping estimate on my order confirmation email was July 11th.

Then, on July 12th, I received an email from Amazon saying that there was "a delay with one or more items in the order you placed on May 30", but no details about how long a delay it would be.

Then, when I read this post in August, I checked my order status on Amazon.ca and it stated a September shipping estimate.

Only yesterday (December 6th) did I realize that I had not yet received the book, so I checked my order status online and it still mentionned September as a shipping estimate. I contacted Amazon.ca customer service and here is their reply:

"Please allow me to explain that sometimes unexpected fluctuations in supply can add time to our original availability estimate. We have learned that "3D Programming for Windows : Three-Dimensional Graphics Programming for Microsoft Windows Presentation" is back- ordered, and our supplier is not able to tell us exactly when they expect to have more in stock. I apologize that you were not notified sooner of this change.

To help compensate for this unexpected delay, I have upgraded your shipping for this order to "Priority", at no extra charge.

Now the estimated ship Date for this item "3D Programming for Windows : Three-Dimensional Graphics Programming for Microsoft Windows Presentation" is : December 10, 2007.

Please rest assured that you will receive the order sooner than it is estimated."

That is weird. The book has been supposedly back-ordered since september (or even earlier), but now that I contact them they can ship by next monday? Right now, the shipping estimate for the book on Amazon.ca is "1 to 4 months"...

Go figure...

Pascal Bourque, Fri, 7 Dec 2007 09:35:21 -0500 (EST)


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