December 17th, 2009

Who Saw This Coming? (Not Me & Not DK Either)

The saga of my search for a copy of the Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary began last week when I discovered my nephew wanted it for Christmas. His mother seemed slightly perplexed, but I knew exactly what it was, having received a large Lego display for the bookstore along with several copies back in October. I knew we had sold out of the book and gotten in a second shipment, and sold most of that. I had idly noted that it was doing very well.

So when I went into work the next day, I looked for a copy. Not on the shelves. Oddly, Borders had decided to shelve it in the adult SF section rather than in kids, so I checked both places, but to no avail. I looked it up on the computer--only one left in stock. I checked the slush carts and other spots it might have migrated to, but I couldn't find it and my co-workers informed me we were sold out. No biggie, I think to myself, I'll just order it from Borders.com when I get home.

At home that evening (well, very late at night, well into the wee hours if you want to be particular) I went online only to discover the book is backordered on Borders.com, so no discount on this for me . I shift over to Amazon--but it's backordered there as well. B&N.com, same thing. Powells, too. I still don't get the message, though.

A couple of days later I'm back at work and I try to order it through Ingram. They're out. I call our local distributor--they're out. I call the local B&N, who are also out. Really odd, I think, I haven't seen a thing about the sleeper bestseller status of this book anywhere. I still think I can probably find one lingering on a shelf somewhere, so the next day (which happened to be yesterday) I settle down on my couch with my laptop and the phone and start in.

By late afternoon, I had gone through every B&N and Borders in Manhattan (with a couple in Brooklyn and one or two in NJ for good measure) who were listed as still having it in stock. Nobody actually had it. University Bookstore in Seattle claimed to have it, so I called them only to find out they didn't. I brought up a list of independent bookstores and called all of them. No luck. Nobody, apparently, has seen a copy since November, and we're looking at February before DK manages to push out any more.

But what amazes me is how under the radar this phenomenon has been. In all of my calls to these bookstores, several people knew they were out of it, but none of them seemed to know the entire country was out. Everyone seemed to be surprised to find they couldn't order it. Out of curiosity, I googled it but not a single news story came up (granted, I didn't scroll through more than the first two pages).

Anyway, I bought another book for my nephew and he can have a pleasant surprise in February when I can get my hands on the damn thing again.