I Never Expected This

13 03 2009

lincoln-a-lifeI’ve been keeping you up to date with the continuing saga of my copy of Michael Burlingame’s Abraham Lincoln: A Life.  I got a really good price on the two volume set, $83 from Amazon with free shipping, and I used a $50 gift certificate from my credit card points against that.  The book took a month and a half to arrive, and when it did, the spine cover of volume II had separated from the text block spine, so the book just falls open.  As Drew pointed out to me, that’s to be expected for a 1,000 page book, eventually, but for a new book it’s inexcusable.  Confused by Amazon’s statement on its site that exchange was not an option (the instructions say to return the book and reorder it, which would have lost me the significant discount I got on the price when I ordered it), I checked into getting the book repaired.  I was told by the nice folks at Mechling Bookbindery that it would cost about $40 for repair, which was more than the lost discount.  So I followed Amazon’s return instructions and found in the process that indeed, I could exchange the book for a new copy.  The new books would arrive within days, and I had 30 days to return my original order.

The new volumes arrived within a few (very few) days.  But guess what?  The same volume of the set had the same defect.  Drew tells me that this is a pretty consistent problem with this set.  So I fired off a note to Amazon, telling them how much it was going to cost me to get the book repaired.  Guess what?  They told me that I could return the book for full credit, or I could accept a $40 credit to the payment method I used to buy the book from them.  Whoda thunk?

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7 responses

13 03 2009
Drew W.

Hi Harry,
I don’t think the spine separation that you describe should ever be considered normal for any sized book that’s properly bound. I think what you can expect eventually is the text block to sag a bit, so when the book is placed upright the outer lower corner of the block rests on the shelf instead of being suspended between the boards. When you buy older big books used you commonly find this edge to be dirty. That’s one of the things that make boxed sets a nice touch for big books.

Drew

13 03 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks Drew, I stand corrected. I have a Pulitzer set of Freeman’s Lee that I picked up for $20 a few years ago – the more ornate set, not the one you usually find on ebay. All of their spines have separated from the block as well – you can drop a pencil through the gap. I attribute this to poor storage. I think I’ll take that set to the bookbinder when I take the Lincoln book, see if I can get a volume discount.

14 03 2009
Drew W.

Harry,
What made you think of Mechling for your repair needs? Coincidentally, I received a book that they published a short while ago.

16 03 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Drew,

They are located outside of Pittsburgh, which means I don’t have to pay shipping on the book and can stop in and show them just what I’m talking about.

13 03 2009
Larry Freiheit

Harry,

Volume 2 suffered the same problem for me as soon as I opened it. I seen from Amazon reviews that it is a common problem.

Larry

16 03 2009
Larry Freiheit

Update.

I called B&N where I bought the set and after some discussion, they were willing to refund my money upon return of the set. I then called Johns Hopkins U P and a nice lady there said that they would send me a new, prechecked set and pay for the return of the defective one. She said that they believed that only volume 2 was a problem. In any event JHUP is doing the right thing IMO.

Larry

16 03 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks for the update, Larry.

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