I'm a lucky man. I work in publishing, so I get a lot of free books. ReadySteadyBook has been going for a long time (seven or more years), so I get sent a lot of free books. But I'm also a greedy man, so I still buy an awful lot of books too...
In July of last year, I started a new job at Quercus Books, but for the decade before that I'd worked for both Amazon and The Book Depository. As you can imagine, that meant that over those years I hardly ever bought a book from a 'bricks and mortar' bookshop.
As part of my initial training at Amazon, I spent some time packing books in their warehouse along with a bevvy of other new recruits. Before we put a book in a package, we were told to examine it properly. If it wasn't mint, then we should discard it, and pack another copy. Over the past decade of ordering from Amazon (and later The Book Depository) it struck me that this lesson must have been well-learned by all those who followed me through the doors of the distribution centre: whenever a book came, it was in perfect condition.
I'm not sure what has changed, but my recent online book orders have all arrived in, well, not mint condition. It is, I suppose, quite difficult to define damaged. Perhaps a creased back cover, a bashed spine, and/or a scratched/dirty front cover isn't really damaged. But it is damaged to me! None of the books has been damaged enough for me to want to bother with the faff of returning them, but enough damage has been done to them – and to my confidence in online shopping – that my dollar votes have recently been cast at the London Review Bookshop where, if I'm lucky, I can often find what I'm looking for shrink-wrapped!
Has anyone else noticed this? Or have I just been a particularly unlucky man several times in a row!?