Today, Amazon’s box with our copies of The Red Man and Others arrived! Again. We’d already had a box last week, but the box was a shambles; all four sides were split open, and only the tape over it held the box together. Cutting the tape made the box unfold like a lily, revealing a sad shred of padding paper and the 20 copies of our book, which were not suitable for reselling.
This time we fared better! At least, the books were not all warped!
Just one of them was as wobbly as the whole previous lot. And while our heroines Ymke and Kaila may not be, we do like our books to be straight! I’m still not sure what brought this on – possibly the damp when transporting the previous lot in a leaky box, possibly a badly calibrated glue machine: if cover and paper stock expands and contracts at different rates due to too much heat/not enough time taken, the book will buckle.
The people handling the press, glue or parcelling could also do with washing their hands more often. Some grubbiness here and there; this one to an unacceptable level.
I’m not sure what happened here, but there’s a weird ‘bruise’ in the cover as if the book banged into something.
Here’s another damaged bit, and an overall very ragged edge. I’ve worked with a industrial paper cutter in the past, as a student, and the one lesson was: the knife has to be sharp. Or perhaps it’s not the knife; perhaps the laminated cover hasn’t dried out enough? Too many books under the machine? Who knows. It’s not pretty, that’s for sure.
Here a folded corner, and another ragged edge. How did this even make it into the box?
And another damaged edge, with a nice ornamental curl.
For a moment I wondered whether I was being pernickety. Whether these are just minor flaws which I should accept. But no, we spent a lot of time and effort writing these stories, and we did everything we could to make these books look nice: illustrations, cover art, design… These books are supposed to be something to be proud of. If we picked up a book with these flaws in a bookshop, we’d put it down and choose another copy, so we’re definitely not expecting someone else to put their money down for them… including ourselves.
So, another call to Amazon it is, tomorrow. This is now twice that we had a bigger than reasonable number of deficient books. On behalf of all authors getting their author copies, I would recommend the Amazon department dealing with these (I assume that it’s done on a different production line than ‘normal’ POD due to bulk):
– Calibrate your glue machines; tend to your knives.
– Train your staff on proper handling of machines, time needed between operations, packing.
– Always pack books spine-to-spine, never spine to edge or – god forbid – edge to edge.
– Remind them to wash their hands! Nobody wants grubby books!
– Important: pay a decent wage! Demoralised staff will have less pride in their work.
Customer service does not start with the people of Amazon customer support. It starts on the production floor.