The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 16, April 16, 2000, Article 6


   In response to Mike Jones' comments on "Book Rate" fees, 
   Numismatic literature dealer Charles Davis writes:  "In the early 
   80's, it was the old bugaboo Buyers Premium and the pages of 
   Cal Wilson's Repository were filled with discussion pro and con. 
   Now it's the Packing Fee.  E-Sylum subscriber Mike Jones is 
   entitled to his opinion, but his diatribe against book dealers is 
   poorly taken, and I for one am offended by it.  He is correct 
   that the Post Office will provide free boxes, but he neglects to 
   point out that these are Priority Mail boxes, not ones for book 
   rate or parcel post, and even they and the free tape are so light 
   weight, neither is recommended for book shipments.  Most of 
   my shipments are made in new boxes or padded mail bags 
   which cost me on average 40c-$1.00 each.  Peanuts and 
   bubble wrap add to the cost, as does the considerable labor in 
   correctly packing the box.  A packing fee of $1-$2.00 over the 
   postage charge hardly covers the cost and should not be the 
   subject of much concern. Has Mr. Jones ever purchased an item 
   from a mail order catalogue where shipping may be as much as 
   10%?   I recently did, and on a $150.00 item I paid $15.00 
   shipping for an item that cost $3.20 to mail.  Now that might be 
   a subject of a discussion. 

   As for the comment "some dealers will charge only actual postage 
   and those dealers are the ones that describe the condition of a 
   book correctly",  I guess Bergman, Lake, Kolbe, Grady, Moulton 
   and I all misdescribe books because we all charge a little more 
   than actual postage. 

   According to his analysis, we book dealers are lining our pockets 
   at the collectors' expense.  Perhaps Mr. Jones would care to join 
   us in our profession. He could undercut our costs and put the lot 
   of us out of business in no time." 

   Karl Moulton notes: "Mr. Jones' comments about "book buying" 
   are something we all share as bibliophiles.  What he relates about 
   conditions, shipping charges, packing fees, etc., are all part of the 
   "hidden costs" involved with acquiring a library.  It's similar to 
   buying a new car with the destination charges, sales tax, license 
   fees, and special "dealer prep coat" (another way of charging for 
   car wax) added to the sticker price. 

   As a literature dealer, I leave every option open to the customer 
   when it comes to shipping and insurance.  In my price list there 
   is a detailed outline explaining the postage and insurance rates 
   from the USPS.  Naturally, my customers pay only the charge 
   needed to receive the package.  As every literature dealer knows, 
   the US Postal Service can be a terrible business partner! " 

   Finally, George Kolbe adds "Whether it's shipping charges, 
   buyers' premiums or other add-ons, the solution seems so simple, 
   at least to me. Add everything up, use a calculator if math is not 
   your forte, AND, if the total is appealing, go for it!  If not, take a 
   deep breath and think SERENITY!" 

   Well, George, I couldn't have summed it up better.  Many is the 
   lot I've reduced my bid on to account for the total cost of buyer's 
   fees, shipping, etc.   And many is the lot I've missed out on to 
   more aggressive bidders.  But the lots I win I'm generally happy 
   with, for I have no one to blame but myself for paying too dearly. 

   From Mike's note he's already making those calculations and has 
   passed up items due to their total cost.  Also, lest our numismatic 
   literature dealer friends get too worked up, his comments were 
   directed primarily at the great unwashed booksellers across the 
   internet, rather than any of our brethren dealers in particular. 

   As a collector, though, it can seem heartbreaking to pass up an 
   item you'd otherwise purchase if not for the extra fees.   But no 
   matter how you slice it, the total cost is the only relevant factor. 
   If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be. 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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