Monday, October 06, 2003


The British publication date was Friday October 3. Amazon dispatched it to me on October 4 and I received it on Monday October 6. This is perfectly satisfactory service, but not perfect. For the latest Harry Potter book, Amazon managed to post it on the day before publication, so that it managed to arrive on the morning of publication day. It would be nice if Amazon could manage to do this for all new books - particularly really anticipated ones like Quicksilver. Their logistics and supply systems are normally very good, and this is one way they could be slightly improved.

Of course, I ordered another book at the same time in order to get free shipping, which may have made the exercise harder, but maybe not. In cases where an order contains pre-orders of yet to be published books, Amazon should aim to post the day before the publication date of the book with the last such date. They are not quite managing it.

As for the book, it's the British edition. British editions are never as well put together as American editions, and having had a look at both editions of this one, this seems to be the case for this one too, although this one is actually better than most. The most common criticism of British hardcovers is that they are glued rather than sewn. This one is sewn, which is good. The paper seems a little shinier and thinner than in the American edition - presumably meaning the US edition has acid free paper and the British one doesn't - and the printing seems a little uneven. (Some pages are darker than others). The American edition looked nicer, and would also look better on my bookshelf next to the American edition I have of Cryptonomicon. But these are not good reasons to pay nearly twice as much. The British edition looks generally fine.

However, one thing that is less fine seems to be a puzzling editorial decision. The American edition opens with a map of baroque Europe, which is no doubt useful for following the action. The British edition contains no such map. Why is this? I have no idea. I feel slightly deprived, however.

I now have to not spent too much time reading it over the next three to four weeks. I have too many other things to do.

Update: I am actually sitting at a free internet terminal in a public library. I had the book sitting next to the keyboard. Somebody came up from behind me, and asked "Is that your book?". I said "Yes". He said "You lucky devil", and walked off. He had just had a small hope that there was a library copy lying on a desk three days after publication, I suppose.

It's not so much that I'm lucky, though. Just that I was willing to fork over a little cash.

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