I’ve become a world traveler from the coziness of my small home office. Who knew? The trip started with an e-mail from an old friend in England, suggesting that my latest book ought to be reviewed by a certain writers group centered there and dedicated to historical fiction. Moreover, she offered to shepherd it through the process if I could get her a copy. Easy, right?
She and I have exchanged Christmas gift books in the past, so I immediately began to wonder if I had a box the right size. I have several USPS Priority Mail boxes that fit the book perfectly, but they can’t be used for international mail without going through a customs declaration. She suggested that I order a copy from Amazon UK, thereby claiming royalties on the sale and avoiding a trip to the post office, customs red tape, and exorbitant shipping charges.
And thus began the questions. First, is the book available for sale in England? I know I get royalties from all over the world for digital copies of my books, but what about trade paper editions? Does CreateSpace print copies for overseas markets? Apparently they do, because I found it listed in the Amazon UK online catalog. But can US ciitizens order from there when the book is also available in the US? And if so, will they accept my credit card? Again the answer turned out to be yes. I simply signed in to their webpage with my US password and up popped a greeting, “Welcome, Carolyn.” Nice.
When I actually clicked on the book to order it, however, I discovered that it is only available in England through a central distributor located in Switzerland. I guess that makes sense. Amazon, it turns out has 12 affiliate companies, located in widely scattered geographic regions – India to Japan, Mexico to Brazil, Canada to Australia – so some sort of centralized distribution points must be necessary. OK, so long as they take my money, I’m good with that.
Then I have to fill out a “Ship To:” form. Have you seen a British address? No simple Street, City State, Zip Code for them. My friend’s mailing address has eight lines, beginning with the name of her family’s farm. And those eight lines of information have to be crammed into a Swiss address form with six blanks. I managed to do that.
(Now, I love the fact that even the Swiss form contains a separated line for “Name of House.” I’m not poking fun at European customs. In fact, I find the idea endearing. I’m wondering what I would name my house if it were required as part of my legal address. “House of Four Cats?” “Retirement Villa?” “The One in the Back on the Left?” Never mind!)
Then came one more glitch. The website won’t accept the order unless I give them a phone number for the recipient. Which, of course, I don’t have, since I have never needed to use one. That meant I had to shoot off an e-mail message, asking for the number. And back came an automated response: “Not in the office right now. Will get back to you soon.”
So the order is pending until we overcome distances and time zones. Still, it’s been an interesting morning’s journey.