I know I’m not the only one in the book blogosphere who’s got an issue with the misdescription of second-hand books by online sellers – but I seem to have had a run of real back luck recently…

640px-Gertrude_Stein_1935-01-04

The first problem came with a Gertrude Stein – I’d found a reasonably priced (though not *that* cheap) copy of one of her books I’d been after for a while on a big Online Auction Site and jumped at it. It was an ex-library book so I expected wear, stamps etc and was prepared for that. What I *wasn’t* prepared for was extensive foxing on the block and inner pages plus very dirty pages. That kind of thing *should* be described and it wasn’t. So I was irked and sent it back for a refund.

My Beverley book was not quite this nice....

My Beverley book was not quite this nice….

Next up was a Beverley Nichols – “No Place Like Home”. I blame Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book for this because he found a copy and mentioned it on his site and I hadn’t got a copy so searched online eagerly. I found one that was a little old and fragile, and again the Online Auction Site seller mentioned the fragility of the dustjacket and the oldness of the book. But neither picture nor description revealed even heavier foxing than the Stein – I was not impressed. However, as it was a first edition, I accepted a part refund after a bit of grumbling and decided to live with the foxing.

If only the Nabakovs had arrived in this lovely condition........

If only the Nabokovs had arrived in this lovely condition……..

I thought things might improve with my next attempt at online purchase: as I was having a bit of a Nabokov binge, I decided to pick up a couple of titles I don’t have (well, four actually) and had a bit of a browse on an Awe-inspiring bookselling website. Four titles popped into my basket and I waited eagerly – I’ve bought from this site a lot over the years, and although I’ve had a few stinkers, mostly their books are ok (and very cheap as they include postage). Alas, when they arrived there was again more dirt, foxing and even torn covers – plus one edition was paperback and not hardback as described. I grumbled and got another 50% refund, but confess to getting Pretty Fed Up by now.

I'm particularly keen on this era of Penguins

I’m particularly keen on this era of Penguins

Readers of the Ramblings will know I’ve been muttering about The Forsyte Saga, and at the suggestion of OH I sent off for penny copies of each of the three large volumes from various resellers on a certain Big River retailer. They turned up today – *sigh*. I have found a trend recently on Big River – a particular seller, who sends out tat described as “very good” and has a Worldly name, has now started trading under a variety of other names. So I had inadvertently ordered one of my Forstyes from them (as normally I avoid them like the plague) and the sticker on the back says “Very Good” and the book has – you’ve guessed it! – heavy foxing!!! I haven’t decided what to do yet, as the Big River really don’t care, and the three books are a sort of matching set of a particular era of Penguins.

I don’t expect a second-hand book to be pristine – that’s why it’s second-hand and I’m not paying a lot for it – but I expect it to be clean and accurately described. Frankly, this is enough to put me off the Big River and the Online Auction for a long time – and I can’t even switch safely to Abe as a lot of resellers on the other two places list here as well.

Anyone have any suggestions of safe places to buy online??? :s