Let me preface this story by saying that in ten years of shipping thousands of used and rare books all over the world, this is only the second time something like this has happened. The first time, we shipped a lovely antiquarian book off to England via Priority Air, and somehow it dropped in the great pond before it reached its destination. It was returned to us a soggy pulpy mess, in a small U.S.P.S. body bag.
Things have gone pretty smoothly ever since; then last week we received an e-mail from a customer in Nebraska, to whom we had shipped a beautiful old copy of Paradise Lost. He told us the book had arrived, but not before the U.S.P.S. truck had been involved in crash and burn vehicular accident, and this is what they delivered to his door (and in a fairly timely manner!):
While we felt terrible about the customer being deprived of his book and the fact that it was effectively incinerated, the photos of the written apologies from the Post Office had us rolling on the floor with laughter. WE CARE is the one that really got to us. Of course, accidents do happen. It’s quite amazing they delivered what was left of the book at all. Luckily our customer is a very kind and sensible person, and in no way blamed us. We have refunded him in full for both the cost of the book and shipping expenses, even though he said it wasn’t necessary.
Such are the perils of bookselling. So before you send a book on a journey, think about this: Protective paper wrapping, zip loc bag, bubble wrap, and sturdy box may not be enough! Insurance is a good idea on anything of high value.