Charles Petzold

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 and

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 " 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.