Feats Of Delivery

By | Saturday, September 15, 2012 Leave a Comment
Back in February, I pre-ordered a copy of Ethan Young's debut graphic novel Tails. It actually debuted in comic shops on August 22, but for some reason Amazon wasn't going to deliver them until September 10-14. Yesterday (the 14th) I got an email from Amazon saying that they've cancelled any pre-orders for the book, and I had to re-confirm that I still wanted it, but it now had a delivery date of September 28 - October 6. I'm not the only one who got that message, of course; it went out to everyone who pre-ordered through Amazon.

Young has been doing a lot of apologizing lately on his website, through Facebook, etc. to anyone who pre-ordered through Amazon. I can't speak for all of those people, naturally, but I know that any delivery delays and issues are well outside of his control. He doesn't need to apologize to me, as far as I'm concerned. But he's also tried to do some digging to find out what happened.

Here's a quick run-down of the players at work here. 1) Ethan Young. He's the creator who wrote/drew the book. 2) Hermes Press. The publisher who took Young's art, printed up a bunch of copies and made it into a physical book. 3) Diamond Comics. The distributor who works with Hermes to take those books and deliver them to retail outlets around the country. 4) Amazon. The retailer who sells the book to guys like me.

From what Young's been able to track down, apparently, the original issue (Amazon getting the books out several weeks after comic shops) is due to Diamond not getting their information to Amazon by a certain deadline. Now, why that extended delivery date got pushed back another few weeks seems to be a bit of a mystery, but Hermes confirmed that Diamond does evidently have another cache of books that needs to get shipped out. They didn't say where exactly, but the numbers suggest that it was probably Amazon. At this point, I don't know if Hermes didn't send them to Diamond on time, the delivery service (UPS?, FedEx?, USPS?) just took their time getting the books to Diamond, or Diamond just "lost" the boxes for a couple of weeks.

But think about that whole chain for a bit. Regardless of where the fault lies in this particular instance, think of how many times it works smoothly. Think of how many books (and other items) you've advance ordered from Amazon and got exactly when they said you'd get it. That this system works at all is amazing, that works with any degree of efficiency or accuracy is almost mind-boggling. Especially considering some of the issues smaller retailers regularly report with Diamond! I mean, I know Amazon has got to be their single largest (i.e. most important) client, but some of those issues that get reported strike me as ones that are endemic to the system as a whole irrespective of the client. And the system still works more often than not! Wow... just, wow.
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