In which the author exhibits his cheap and lazy nature by faffling around a bit, eventually buying Jenny Rohn’s latest novel “The Honest Look” via several geographically separate countries.
Ever one to be up to date [Ed. Note – false], I’ve finally gotten around to ordering a new novel. Having temporarily shelved tomes by James Watson and Craig Venter, polished off Michael Freeman’s Top Digital Photography Tips, dabbled in a rather excellent Ansel Adams book, and decided against re-visiting Hemingway’s Turgid A Farewell To Arms, I was looking for something engaging, something zingy, something like – the shiny and exciting The Honest Look, by none other than Occam’s Typewriter blogger, cell biology researcher extraordinaire, and self-confessed Rock Chick (her words, not mine), Jenny Rohn. Yes, that Jenny – the one with the blog, and the website, and the other website. Not to mention this website. Ok, I mentioned it. Go on, sue me, see where it gets ya.
Quite by coincidence, The Honest Look was the subject of debate at last night’s FictionLab, and Grrlscientist reviewed the book yesterday on her Punctuated Equilibrium blog. Accuse me of jumping on a bandwagon, I don’t care, I can take it.
Anyway, because, according to Ricardipus Rule of Life #1, Nothing Is Ever Easy, I couldn’t order the book initially from Amazon Canada. Because they claimed it didn’t exist. Just like they claim that approximately 10,000,000 other things stocked by Amazon outlets in slightly larger and/or wetter countries don’t exist. Why not? Probably because of our socialized healthcare system, or our gosh-darned generic drugs, or the British North America Act, or something.
Fine. Instead, I decided to order it Direct From The Publisher. Why not?
I’ll tell you why not. Because Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, bless their pointy little propellor-hatted heads, would happily ship me the book as long as I paid them roughly the price of the book, plus the price of the same book again to put it in a box and mail it. Now, I suppose I could have added some more books to my order, to minimize the overall shipping cost as a percentage of the total, but honestly, do I really need a $300 textbook on the size and shape of cellular appendages, or a monograph on the X-ray crystal structure of some fancy protein or other (Stephen and Richard, no comments from you lot please)? Have I mentioned the North American Free Trade agreement yet? It’s supposed to make things flutter joyfully across the US-Canada border, with no impediments – operational, monetary or likewise. Unless it’s softwood lumber, that is. Or fresh water. Or automobiles. Or books. Or just about anything else, although sometimes it seems that guns and marijuana might be exempt.
Right. Off to Amazon UK… or wait, maybe not. That’s in the UK, right? That’s a powerful long way away and I bet the shipping will be expensive. Time for a re-think.
[At this point in the tale, the Christmas holidays and two enormous grant proposals intervened. But wait! All is not lost, because, when I re-surfaced:]
Aha! Amazon Canada now acknowledged the existence of Jenny’s novel. Yes, the shipping wasn’t free (believe it or not, I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted to add to the order to kick it over the magic “free shipping” threshold), but it was almost reasonable, and, since I was in possession of a very fine gift certificate, the spoils of filling out some market survey or other, I wasn’t too bothered. So, clickety-click, order done, and…
…it’s shipping to me from…
…wait for it…
…would you care to guess?
A book written by an American living in England. Published by an American company. Ordered from the Canadian arm of an American distributor. That in turn arranged delivery via the American subsidiary of an English company. Who are shipping it to me right here in Canada, from England, via Royal Mail, of all things.
Astonishing. It all seems so twenty-first-century somehow – although truth be told, all of this could have just as easily been arranged by good old-fashioned paper mail, probably. Nevertheless, it’s now on its way, and I’m looking forward to it. Honest.