Ordering From Web Sites and Frank Reade. Or: “The Difference Between Read and Reade” January 30, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: ,

Another bit of fodder for my relationship of ambivalence (re: love-hate) toward Internet communication.

I saw a mention of an beautiful and exciting new art book on Facebook, with a link to a news article. I clicked on the news article, fell in love with the book and decided to immediately pre-order one, as it was being released this week. (While it can be bought in shops, neither of the two sorry excuses for comic stores by me are likely to carry it, and I figured I’d be too late to order one thru them as it has a limited print run.)

So, like any trained Web consumer, I clicked on the link included in the article for “more information.” I was taken to the publisher’s home page. I scrolled down to find a text piece mentioning the book. I looked for an ordering link but none was found. I clicked on the pic of the book’s cover and nothing happened (no link). All I found was a light-colored “read more” link at the end of the article. I clicked on it and was taken to another page that simply reproduced the same press release I’d just read on the news site! Only difference was there were two pics this time, the cover and an interior page. I clicked on each, and again, nadda. (Not even an enlargement, which was included on the news site.)

No link to order or pre-order. What did they have instead? The sentence, “Visit [publisher name].com to learn more about the company and its top-selling books.” That’s great. Except I read this while already on the company’s web site. It was literally the press release just pasted onto the site–even including the blurb, “About the company” at the bottom.

Really? They couldn’t even edit that part out?

So now, again, my Net-customer-monkey programming kicks in and tells me to look at the top of the page for some kind of ordering information. I see two big links, “CATALOG” and “SHOP.” Now what the hell the difference is between the two, I have no idea. (Don’t you shop from a catalog? Aren’t catalogs for shopping?)

Anyway, I first tried the “Catalog” section which was an abecedarian list of titles. I searched under all the initials I thought the book could be under (no less than four) and no listing was found.

I then clicked on “Shop” and was greeted by a huge selection of pics of various book/franchise titles. No pic of my desired book on top. Rather than scroll down a who-knows-how-long page, I searched using my web browser’s “Find” option for the main word of the title–and, surprise, found nothing on the page.

So now we’re talking several minutes of searching for something I’m willing to spend my damn-hard-earned money on, with nothing provided easily to do so.

As a last resort, I decided to search the archives of the Yahoo Group, figuring someone had posted about it earlier. (The fine editor of said book had posted about earlier books in the line.)

Bingo! Sure enough, I found his post from last year, with a working link to some page on the company’s site that finally allowed me the honor and privilege of giving them my money. Joy.

(I won’t mention him or the company by name because he’s a helluva guy and I don’t want anyone to misinterpret what’s said here as anything negative on him, which is bound to happen considering the way too many attention- and intellectually-challenged folks read these days.)

Apparently the page linked to is an orphan, even though it had “shop” in the URL, because as mentioned before, I could not find a way to access it.

Granted, there may have been a link to it on one of the places I’d looked, but the fact that I couldn’t find it meant to me that it wasn’t easy. And that’s the point. While no Net genius, I’m college-degreed and not exactly a maroon. (I still have my National Honor Society sash from high school somewhere, so there!) I figured there are bound to be other reasonably bright folks who may have the same difficulty as I, and wanted to suggest the company rectify the problem.

So, I replied to the original Yahoo! Groups post with the above tale of woe (without sarcasm, of course) and asked said fine editor to please let his Web department know of the issue. I added, “I know the book is in limited production, but I have to think from a business standpoint you’d like to make it at least a little easier for your customers to order, yes? ;-)”

(I even added the winky-smiley emoticon to show I was trying to be helpful and friendly.)

I was expecting one of three types of replies:

  1. The cool-and-helpful editor would come back with a “Sorry you had trouble; I’ll let the proper people know,” or tell me there was a link on the home page, offer and explanation and thank me anyway for my suggestion (and ordering the book).
  2. Other members of the group would say, “I couldn’t find an ordering link on that home page article either” or a “That sounds reasonable. It should be easier to order.”
  3. If I was mistaken, someone would post a kind “Sorry you had trouble, Mike, but the link was actually—“ with an explanation of what I’d missed.

So what did I get?

Two replies: One guy saying he pre-ordered his “the other day from the company’s web site”, with no further explanation, and another guy saying “The link worked fine here.” (What link? The one posted earlier by the editor? Who said that didn’t work? What planet am I on?)

Apparently, those folks did not bother to read the entire post. Why should they? That would take time. And understanding. No one has time for that now! “I have to twit/tweet/Google/Facebook/YouTube/BoobToob on my iThing to a gazillion friends I’ve never met. I’ll just skim the first and/or last sentence and reply off the cuff. You’re an idiot, Mike, and I have zero time for you.”

Nice.

For this reason and others, I am absolutely convinced that ADD is an environmentally-caused disorder and not biological. I’ll lay any odds that there was no ADD in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, feudal Japan, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Civil War, WW I or even WW II. I think it’s caused by too much instant input from too many sources and saps one’s patience–along with politeness and intellect–like a super-absorbent Bounty paper towel around your brain. And yes, you kids, get the hell outta my yard!

Of course, it’s only been a day-and-a-half. I’m sure the super-cool editor previously referenced will reply, professionally and courteously. (He–and others–may have even emailed me privately from the group, but stupid Yahoo tends to automatically put such direct emails into the Trash folder for some reason; so I have no idea how many people there to this day think I’m a dick for not replying the last few years. Sigh.) But for now, I’m not holding my breath.
Anyway, before I go, I want to end on a completely unrelated positive note. Last week I was thrilled to receive my just-released copy of the brilliant FRANK READE: ADVENTURES IN THE AGE OF INVENTION by the equally brilliant Paul Guinan and Anita Bennett. I’d pre-ordered it from Amazon last year (thankfully it’s easy-as-pie to order on that site) and the book actually shipped nearly a month early! How often does that happen in this business? Here’s some pics:

A tiny glimpse of the astoundingly amazing amount of work from the astonishing Frank Reade book by the awesome Paul Guinan and Anita Bennett.

 

Like they did in the equally-enigmatic BOILERPLATE, Paul and Anita have woven together a tightly-knit tapestry of never-before reprinted and retouched gems from the past, recently-created visual delights, gobs of clever and adroitly-written text, and glued them together with meticulous research, design and editing. All to create a seamless blend of adventure, ingenuity, steampunk, lovely art, and real-plus-imagined history that’s a joy to experience.

Meanwhile, I’ll let you know what happens with the other book and the group. [See comments below.]

If I have the time after Facebooking, of course. Wait, I’m getting a text…
Thanks,
Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.: I forgot the punchline: I had to not only pay sales tax, but sales tax on the POSTAGE! The way the site is set up, the sales tax is added after the shipping charges. Nothing like getting kicked while being slapped.

P.P.S: A truly friendly reminder: I will be available for your cool commission requests at the end of this week!! Get your order in early as the schedule is filling up. Just ask Craig here. Thanks!

 

 

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