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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Oh my God, they killed Kenny's books

Collecting Silver and Bronze age books in a tiny, remote country isn't always that easy..in fact it's pretty hard. There are no dealers with any stock, no comic shops that sell back issues older than the 90's, no cons...and most important, almost no other collectors. Now I don't want go off on a tangent and lament about my poor poor situation, but I thought it important to state it up front.

So my only option is to buy overseas..America that is, the US of A, the home of the superhero comic book. After half a decade on various comic boards I've build up a large network of friends and contacts and I've imported over 8000 comic books this way. Thanks to these people my collection is ever growing and I don't feel all isolated on my island of Franco-Belgian style.
Comics collectors like to build their collection, that's a give,but what I have noticed is that also like to help others build their collection as well, sometimes being geographically challenged has helped rather than hindered me, lots of people have given me sweet sweet deals, partly because they know they are helping and partly because they know there's only a small chance I'll immoderately (flip) sell the book they gave me a huge discount on.Nothing is more frustrating than selling a book to somebody and giving them a break and then watching them sell the same book for a lot more only a short time later. I'm not saying that I'm Saint Chromium or anything, but there's just nobody for me to sell to. Nobody here wants the stuff, most US collectors won't buy from some collector in some miniature country (and why would they when they have all the books they'll ever need close by) and shipping to the US is so expensive that nobody would even bother.

And so the "s"-word has fallen...shipping, the great barrier, the black hole that just keeps sucking money. The good news is that US shipping prices are among the cheapest in the world. The bad news is that it's still a lot of money. I used to keep data on shipping costs...just for fun, calculating how much I was spending on shipping alone. I stopped doing this in 2005....when I reached $5000...I couldn't believe I had spend the same amount a nice VG/FINE copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 would set me back on stamps...stamps, brown paper and boxes. I just don't want to know anymore how much I've spend on top of that 5K the last two years. If you're looking for me, I'll be next to the ostrich, burying my head in sand.

And next to the cost, there's also the stress, will the books arrive ? And if they arrive, will they arrive in good shape ? Will my $500 NM book be turned into a $120 FINE book because some bored postal employees decided to play "package-frisbee" during their lunch our ? Yes I can insure the books, but that's another lose-lose situation. As long as I import my used comics (back issues are second-hand) as literature, customs leave me alone. If I declare that I'm not a business and these books are for me and me alone...it's all golden and they float through, but once I insure them they have to take another avenue and tax, tax and tax me until I bleed out of all orifices. If I have a $600 book delivered to my house insured, I pay roughly $200 in tax (33%) each and every time. Meaning that even if I lose one book in three it would still be cheaper than to have them sent insured.Lucky for me 99% of all packages have arrived, big package, small ones, cheap books, high dollar books, all have arrived almost always in perfect shape.

Three months ago I would have proudly put 100%, yes even 5 years of importing box after box of comics from overseas, each and every package had arrived..but somehow I knew this kind of luck couldn't not last forever...you can't beat the odds.
So my first "loss" happened a few months ago and it was a very strange one. And this is how we get to Kenny from this topic's title (not that Kenny is strange hehe).
Kenny is one of the good guys, an eternal optimist, proud father and family man and a really BIG comic book fan, interested in all ages, all publishers, all types of books and even in the fringe side like restoration detection..in short the perfect comic-buddy and a very reliable source to deal with. Kenny had some books for sale that I wanted and we quickly made a deal, a deal being the optimum word as he gave me a very healthy discount. We traded some info and he sent me the package. It never arrived. Kenny was very sorry and offered to refund me the money, which he was under no obligation to do, but he did it anyway, coz that's the kind of person Kenny is. Now I didn't want Kenny to suffer any monetary loss because the post office dropped the ball this time,so we agreed that he would send m some replacement books for roughly the same amount. We both were happy and package #2 was sent....it never arrived.

At this point we both agreed that something fishy was going on, the first package not arriving could have been karma finally kicking me in the nuts for always having gotten my packages, too bad it happened on Kenny's deal...but that's Karma for you. But the only two packages out of 100's in 5 years that went missing, coming from the same town ? And sent close to each other ? Coincidence ?? We didn't think so.
We started looking at what could have happened and decided that somewhere en route from me to him somebody was swiping international packages... We wrapped our brain around all of this and then suddenly one of the packages turned up....the second one....and it was returned to Kenny and it looked like this :



The postal label read that it was never picked up (by me) and was then returned to sender...which is impossible. I assure you that I claim my packages each and every time, I get the xmas feeling every time I see a you-were-not-at-home-so-please-pick-the-package-up-at-the-PO slip in my mailbox.
No way any note was left, my mailbox is large and built-in into my house, so the elements can't touch anything and I'm the only one that gets the mail (my wife knows I love mail, so she leaves it to me )

Dunno what happened, maybe it was delivered to the wrong house (and a slip left) and that person saw it was not for them and never bothered to pick it up
Pretty sure it wasn't delivered in my neighborhood, as I'm the only one to receive (large volumes of US packages) and both my neighbors have at times accepted packages for me and then brought them round when I got home from work.

This is what the books looked like :


Box #1 is still somewhere in limbo...address on the label was correct (mine) but I think that the first box was delivered to the wrong address and the people just kept it. Second box was again delivered to the wrong address, but nobody was home and the postman left a slip to come pick it up at the post office. The people at that address probably knew that wouldn't get it at the PO, so never bothered to pick it up and it was returned to Kenny (after somebody used it as a chair for a few weeks) Just for the record, I'm not angry at Kenny at all.... this was in fact the make-good box he sent me...he still is a friend and we can laugh (a little) at this misadventure...oh remember how I said that Kenny was also interested in restoring books ? Well today he told me he sent me another package with the books that were returned and this is what he did to them :


Never change Kenny, you are one hell of a guy...now let's hope box #3 arrives

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When buying comic boks, you have to be sure of the transactions you're going to make. Like who is the person to contact if you did not receive the package or if there's something wrong with the package. And especially if you are going to buy some expensive comic books because that's a lot of money if you are going loose the books.

3:17 AM  

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