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New Aliens Books (March 2018)

I’ve updated my Aliens novels collection with four new-to-me volumes.

new_aliens_books_march_2018

Apparently I neglected to get either of the novels last year for Alien: Covenant…the "prequel" novel Origins and the novelization of the film itself (by Alan Dean Foster!)

And two more of the The Complete Aliens Omnibus series came out, each collecting two more older/out of print novels. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fifth volume moves into the DH Press series of novels. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do those up, as they’re a bit more recent (albeit a good 13 years old now). And horribly out-of-print.

This gives me higher interest in the Predator side, that even if I can’t track down the older single editions, I can at least have the novels in my collection for that series as well.


Unfortunately, Amazon completely sucks at packaging stuff, and though I ordered all 4 books together, they sent them to me as two separate shipments. One shipment was just one of the novels, and the cover was horribly damaged (huge crease). The other shipment had the other novel and both omnibus volumes…crammed into a container about a half-inch too small for the width of the books’ combined width, side-by-side…which resulted in all three being damaged for shipment (and the package with two points open to the elements as it tried to be wide enough).

Amazon has also gotten even worse than before about the packaging, feedback, etc–removing the ability to leave packaging feedback without Googling a page or tweeting at them and being given a link: you can’t do it from the orders interface the way you used to. They’ve also apparently decided that if they damage your order twice they’re not gonna bother with replacing, and will simply want to refund your money, even though you pay $100/yr or whatever for Prime membership and they’re the ones using zero protection in shipping and even damaging the books TO ship them.

But I suppose that gets into another post complaining about Amazon

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Newer Books I’d Been Looking Forward To

While a lot of books and such that I get are relatively spur-of-the-moment, there are certain volumes that I’ll know exist(ed) or learn will be coming out sometime in the future that I’ll particularly look forward to. Several of these converged into just a couple days last week, though several more days were involved in terms of spacing of orders placed.

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Awhile back, Bleeding Cool and their “glitch watch” had a piece up about a number of volumes heavily discounted on Amazon, including 50% off the then-upcoming Batman: Knightfall Omnibus vol. 1. With their “pre-order price guarantee,” I figured I’d jump on it for this one, as the price (for me) then had nowhere to go but down, and at a starting point of 50% off, anything else would be icing on the cake. Of course, I seemed to have gotten in at the lowest price, and though a week after comic shops, my card was charged and the book came, so it’s now a part of my collection.

Though it’s got some slight dings/dents…with stuff going on in “real life” right now, I do NOT have the “heart” to fight Amazon over the condition of the thing! Especially as it’s the sort of stuff that I’d honestly “expect” or “accept” buying such a volume in a comic shop or certainly at a used-books shop.

Plus, I’m hoping that this will truly be a definitive edition, and sturdier than the thick paperbacks I’ve been afraid to use for re-reading for fear of killing the spines.

aliens_original_series_and_bug_hunt

Then, in the Aliens side of things, I hadn’t expected either of these volumes out until the 26th of April–“Aliens Day,” (LV-426). However, I realized that the hardcover of Aliens: The Original Comics Series Nightmare Asylum and Earth War was already out/available; so I ordered that through InStockTrades. A few days later, checking up on the exact release date and price for the anthology volum Aliens: Bug Hunt, I learned that it, too, was already available on Amazon.

tmnt_idw_collection_and_100_project

Along with the Aliens original series, I also ordered The TMNT 100 Project. At the same time that I was checking on the Bug Hunt volume, I saw that Amazon had TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 back in stock and for as steep a discount as I could expect from InStockTrades…though the latter did NOT have it in stock, so I placed the order through Amazon.

Despite some 5 days’ difference in placing these two orders, all four volumes arrived on Friday.

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The Knightfall volume doesn’t actually have room on the shelf at the immediate moment. I’m hesitant to ditch the paperbacks entirely until the 2nd Omnibus is out this summer…and my entire collection has grown enough in areas over the past year-plus that I need to do a mix of weeding and adding a couple additional bookcases to hold stuff and spread things out so it’s not all crammed together.

aliens_on_the_shelf

It’s sort of amazing to think that the two “Original Comics” Aliens hardcovers’ content is crammed into the Aliens Omnibus vol. 1…but the size difference is also amazing, and far preferable in the larger format. That said, until or unless all the other stuff would get reprinted in this format, I’ll settle for the larger “library” with some doubling-up of actual content with the different editions.

I’m also looking forward to/hoping for another volume like The Complete Fire and Stone volume for the concludes-this-week Life and Death mega-arc from the past year or so.

tmnt_idw_on_the_shelf

I believe that, at last, I’m actually up-to-date/current with IDW‘s releases on the TMNT Adventures volumes as well as the TMNT: The IDW Collection volumes. The IDW Collection volumes–as only 4 volumes–surpass where I’d left off with getting the paperbacks of the ongoing series, the Micro-Series, and the various other mini-series they’d done. And these hardcovers are far superior as they reprint stuff in more of a story-order, where one does NOT have to switch back and forth between multiple volumes to get the proper experience of developments in continuity.

This is the point I’d looked forward to getting to a year and a half or two years ago or whenever it was they started these editions–stopping me in my tracks on the paperbacks.

I suppose I’d also like to note that apparently the TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 had managed to either go outright out of PRINT or at least out of stock… whatever the case, it was enough for third-party Amazon sellers to jack the pricing up to ridiculously astronomical prices. Several weeks ago, I saw something from Diamond with the volume on a list of “Back in Print” stuff, so simply waited for it to show up at a reasonable price again.

This reprinting/re-availability of a “middle volume” is something that it seems like Marvel in particular does NOT do: if something from them goes out of print, it STAYS out of print, at least until they do a whole new trade dress/presentation of something…which then means that even if the story is available again, the volume no longer “fits” into a series on a shelf.

This is one of the primary reasons I’ve NOT continued with the Cable & Deadpool paperbacks, nor gotten into the Deadpool Classic books: I’d love to get them, but I simply DO NOT TRUST Marvel to keep/have them in print long enough for me to actually get the entire series…and I absolutely do not want to get 6 or 7 or even 9 or 11 volumes in, just to suddenly have the final few only available to me for quadruple-or-more the cover price (when cover price itself is far more expensive than I’ve any interest in for the books)…or worse, have a random volume here and there out of print where I can’t even GET more than 3-4 volumes in a “run”.

But I suppose that gets into stuff for another post sometime.

BREAKING: #Amazon Discovers Boxes Still Legal for Shipping!

I heard footsteps and the sound of something being dropped by the front door. Dreading what I might find when I looked, I checked anyway. I was expecting a book I’d pre-ordered months ago but figured this would be another fight with ’em, trying to get something that is minimally damaged at best.

After all, for ages now, Amazon‘s had this flat-out refusal to ship books with any sort of care or pretense of care! I was wondering if my book might be in just a bubble mailer, or one of those crappy "cardboard envelopes" and picturing the various damages the book’s suffered.

Imagine my genuine shock and "holy $#*^!" moment when I saw an actual, genuine BOX! Like, a box-box, 3-dimensional, not an envelope of any sort, but a real live virtually vintage Amazon BOX!

amazon_actually_used_box_11222016a

And of course, I had to document this. It’s like some unicorn randomly ringing the bell and asking to be photographed! Considering I genuinely cannot REMEMBER the last time I received ANY book from Amazon IN A BOX, this is a momentous occasion!

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After my initial surprise, I once more had some trepidation spotting this hole in the box, obvious damage to the box, which could indicate some massive damage to the book inside. No snark to that statement–something like this could mean something was driven into the box, obviously the box is punctured, so who knows what sort of damage might’ve been done to the book? Alternatively, if part of the book made the damage, then who knows what it suffered in doing so?

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To my further surprise, on opening the box, not only did Amazon use a BOX…but they used packaging material in a vain ATTEMPT to "protect" the book!

These flimsy, crappy air-bubble things mostly don’t do a darned thing and are flatter than not, but SOME air remained in the ones on "top" here. And once I removed the book itself, I realized it’d been laying on one (then flat), but it seems likely that this one on top truly DID protect the book.

No obvious damage to the book’s cover, and since the hole left the cardboard punched down INTO the box, it indicates (to me) that something hit from the houtside…but in most likelihood, the gap between the box itself and the book was maintained by the bubble enough to allow the box to take the damage WITHOUT sharing said damage with the book itself!

These bubbles by no means kept the book STILL within the box–it could still slide around and take damage from being rattled during shipping–but this is more packaging material than I’ve seen in the last (at bare under-estimated MINIMUM) dozen books I’ve ordered from them!

This is not ideal, truly acceptable packaging…especially compared to the actual care and quality from InStockTrades/DCBService (which have CHEAPER shipping and I can’t imagine even with their customer base that they do a fraction of Amazon‘s business!) but considering the complaints I’ve had, I didn’t want to not share this today!

amazon_actually_used_box_11222016c

Look–even the cat is wary of this unfamiliar, rare, and foreign object!

Way to Miss the Point, Amazon!

I’ve been in a fair bit of a "fight" with Amazon for nearly a week, now, this time around.

On Monday, September 26th, 2016, I placed an order for the newest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (Vol. 46). I don’t usually buy these, certainly not as an annual thing, but the other one I have is from mid 2011, PRE-New 52, and I figured I could handle one every half-decade or so in terms of owning.

More specifically to be able to know "Guide Value" for various books that I’d be interested in as I look toward the "back issues" side of things on an increasing basis…and unfortunately, far too many comic shops don’t bother to "price" their stock, leaving the poor customer unable to actually KNOW what price they’ll be quoted at the counter, and surely impacting what they’ll try to or consider buying. Buuuut that’s a topic for another post.

amazon_open_box_01     amazon_open_box_02

Anyway. I am an Amazon Prime customer. That means that I pay the annual fee, to be a part of Prime, and I do so for the physical shipping, to get stuff shipped "free" with 2-day/ASAP shipping. It may be labeled as or considered "free," but it is paid for by paying for the year TO BE a Prime member.

Nowhere that I have seen or heard of, does it include anything regarding some sort of "lesser" form of shipping as a result.

So, order placed on Monday, 9/26. Item arrived Wednesday, 9/28. The book’s damaged because it is over 1150 pages, very thin paper, and heavy. Since it was NOT packed to remain immobile…it slid around and was damaged in transit (beyond any damage prior). I requested a replacement immediately.

The first replacement arrived two days later, 9/30. This one was in the same sort of mailer, but with gaping wide openings (it was NOT properly assembled) and I could see daylight THROUGH the thing as well as clearly see the book contained within. Which was, of course, damaged in transit.

overstreet_46_third_time_damages_againI immediately requested another replacement, once again citing the damage and leaving "packaging feedback" about the issue with "heavy book + room to move = damage" and waited.

The second replacement (3rd copy) arrived the next day, 10/1. The mailer was slightly better-assembled, but I could still check out the book without even opening the package…and the book was damaged. I requested yet another replacement.

Meanwhile, I’d separately ordered a Green Arrow tpb, which arrived separately on Saturday. That one was in a flimsy yellow bubble envelope a good 50-75% larger than the book…and with no inserts or markings, it was folded and stuck into the mailbox. (So it earned a replacement-request as wel!)

The second copy of the Green Arrow book arrived the same way–overlarge flimsy envelope, folded and stuck in the mailbox.

It was then that I realized I had not seen any notification of the replacement of the Overstreet book being on its way…it was still held up in some hold status, apparently for my having requested multiple replacements.

amazon_missed_the_darned_point

When I contacted them about it, through their site, through their process, as a question on the item checking on "Where’s my order"–I was told that they would issue me a refund, please send the other books back.

To which I complained that it is not a satisfactory resolution–I’m now out a week of time (I could’ve bought the book from two different bricks-and-mortar stores and had a satisfactory CONDITION copy long before this). And to make me do the administrative thing of juggling receipt of packages and re-ordering, and then my own printer/ink/paper and gas to drive packages to a drop-off, and after 8+ days be back at square one? NO!

Their response to my continued explanation of the situation and emphasis on the fact that the book keeps arriving damaged because they refuse to use packing material and a proper sized box?

They made it entirely (temporarily) unavailable for sale "while they investigate the issue."

HELLO! 1. use a box 2. put packing peanuts or crumpled paper or several air pockets or foam or stick it between a couple sheets of cardboard, shrink-wrap that and toss it in the box, where the book itself will stay put, and any banging/beating suffered will be by the cardboard and not the book that I have paid for.

Halting their sale of the book entirely is so totally, completely missing the darned point!

Supposedly they’ll "resolve the issue" within 7 days; I can only imagine they’ll find that their stock is in undamaged condition (it’s getting damaged in transit for their inadequate packaging process).

Meanwhile… wonder if any of those 3rd party sellers will jack their prices up significantly, thinking the thing is outta print?

And my apologies to anyone else who might’ve been planning to order this from Amazon right now and using Prime shipping. It seems I’m the reason the book is (temporarily) not available for purchase through Amazon itself at the moment.

How Amazon Invalidates its own Prime Shipping

When one orders something on Saturday, is a current (has paid through November) Prime customer, and the key thing about that is the “free” two-day shipping, it’s reasonable to expect to happily have the (bought) product in-hand Tuesday (Two-day shipping: Monday is 1 day, Tuesday is 2nd day). If the time of day means they count Saturday (or apparently Sunday) and the item is delivered Monday, great.

…Except when that item arrives damaged.

Which is apparently such a common thing that they have a built in system to just generate a replacement order and return-mail label and such.

So, Item arrives Monday, damaged. What I’ve taken to calling “an oversized paperback” in my Amazon feedback, sent in a flimsy, oversized bubble mailer. Sure, bubble mailer. Ok, it’s not just put in a paper envelope and shipped; maybe the plastic of the bubbles helps protect from potential water damage (?!?). But that’s really about all–it certainly does not protect against bending, creasing, folding, denting, nor the book sliding around in the envelope, and depending on the angle, pressure, and whatever beating it’s taking, sure allows plenty of room for the cover to be creased and folded, the books corners and top/bottom spine to take damage and dents, etc.

I immediately turned it around–initiating the return/replace mechanism. Replacement was due to arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Thursday. Amazon’s own “tracking” only shows the thing at some in-between “on its way” stage. Will it arrive Friday? Or will I be waiting til Monday?

Two other items I’d ordered at the same time arrived together Tuesday. One was another paperback, the other a large, heavy hardcover. Both of which were tossed loose in a cardboard packer together, with a gaping corner not even sealed off from the elements or external exposure. Both, of course, damaged. Corners a bit dinged up, some dinging to the spine, on the hardcover. Not horrible, but noticeable to me for looking for the damage. The paperback was banged up as well–sliding around, hitting the sides, and not exactly helped by being somewhat loose with a heavy hardback (which seems to have helped drive the paperback against the sides of the package with just a little more force/pressure than it would have managed on its own. So again, I initiated the return/replace process for both of these.

Despite initiating the process back to back, only the paperback immediately got a replacement “order” right away, the hardback was apparently held up in some kind of queue to be reviewed by a human first, resulting in it not making the cutoff for a two-day turnaround.

Wednesday, nothing arrived, despite expecting that first paperback’s replacement.

Thursday, the replacement of the second paperback from Tuesday arrived…and like the first one Monday, this was loose in a bubble mailer, and actually in more of a beat-up condition than the other book. Of course, I’ve initiated a second round of return/replace…but because I have these delivered to work and it won’t allow me to edit what address to send to…a two-day turnaround on Thursday means Saturday–I’m not at work, no one is there to accept deliveries…making it a four-day thing with Monday being the earliest I’ll be able to get it.

Still no sign of the replacement of the first paperback.

At present, I’m expecting possibly that one arriving Friday, along with the replacement hardcover (3 days instead of Prime’s 2 days).

And really, I should have just gone through something like InStockTrades or CheapGraphicNovels, because I might have received stuff tomorrow (Friday) or possibly Monday…but at least they’d’ve been thoroughly, securely, safely packed to prevent damage in-transit.

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Comixology and Me, One Year Later

One_Year_Later_logoIt’s been just a couple days over the one-year mark. Just a scant handful of weeks after the Amazon deal, Comixology up and with no warning, no advance notice, took away “in-app payments” from Apple device users. I can’t and won’t speak to whatever the situation is with Droid/Google users, as I’m firmly rooted on the Apple camp.

With that one single change, for a number of factors including the simple PRINCIPLE of the thing, I bailed.

Oh, there were arguments for and against the situation. Like how it’s only a couple extra steps to go to a website, even on a tablet/phone browser and do a purchase that way. Or the arguments against, including the hassle of the browser, and having to go through steps of purchase and then still locate/download in a reader, blah blah blah.

My initial gut-reaction? Walk away. Boycott the thing. I’m not spending one more CENT on Comixology purchasing. If they want that extra 30% or whatever by screwing up what seemed (to me, at least) to have even made them what they were, fine…an extra 30% of 0 is still 0, coming from ME.

But I meant it. I wasn’t just saying it because it was some trendy thing to say, or something to be said and gone back on later.

It’s been a year, and I have not spent one more cent on anything Comixology-related. I’ve bought no random full-price issues. I’ve not kept up with anything on a couple months’ lagtime for the $1 off cover price discounts. I’ve bought no bundles, I’ve bought no digital bargain trades, and I’ve not participated in one single 99-cent sale, of which they seemed to have 2-3 per week where I usually bought at least one or two things, often spending $5-$20+ in a given week just on 99-cent sales.

And to make it worse? Thanks to Comixology‘s ‘stunt’, I don’t trust any OTHER digital comics platforms. At least, not enough to “invest.” I participated in a “Humble Bundle” thing some months back for a bunch of Valiant comics on another digital platform, but I never followed up with anything else. I believe I have those comics loaded to my tablet, but I’ve yet to put any serious time into trying to read them, lacking the “guided view” that was a huge part of my buying into Comixology.

Comixology‘s move was one heckuva wake-up call that things could radically change without notice, just literally wake up one morning and “dealbreaker” specific points are different. As “minor” as many would argue the payment vehicle shift was, who’s to say many comics don’t suddenly become unavailable…like if Marvel decides to “take its ball and go home” not allowing Comixology (or another digital platform) to renew a license? (Plenty of other questions along those lines, but that’s a different topic).

Considering where I started on the notion of digital comics, and how quickly I’d turned toward liking them and was beginning to experiment with and think more seriously about flat-out embracing the medium, I can’t even guestimate how much I would’ve spent–and increased my spending over time–since a year ago…especially while ignoring/refusing to consider questions of perpetual availability and Other Change and whatnot.

I refuse to use Comixology…yet other platforms’ lack of Comixology‘s “guided view” makes them less than ideal; and PDFs and the like on my computer don’t work well due to having a “widescreen” that results in–having a PDF viewer “maximized” onscreen–barely being able to see even half a page without manually scrolling around.

And ultimately…where once I was considering a shift to “mostly digital” I now resist the format almost entirely. Though perhaps in a minority and holding to an unpopular view…I’m sure I’m not alone with it.

Post-Thanksgiving Hardcovers

avxhardcoverfrontI got a text from Amazon over the weekend that my book was on the vehicle to be delivered. Unfortunately, they decided to leave it at the apartment office, so I had to wait until Monday morning to pick it up.

This is the second copy of this AvX hardcover Amazon‘s sent me–the first arrived with the bottom corners dented in (damaged) presumably during shipping. Given the pricing of this book, I wasn’t about to accept damaged product for something new.

This copy has some minor stuff to it, but frankly, I’m not gonna worry about it. Where the prior instance was more than I’d accept, this one’s no worse than grabbing a copy off the shelf at a comic shop–I don’t need some “9.8” grade book…I just don’t want something obviously damaged (at least not new when I didn’t administer the damage through my own use).

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I wasn’t expecting Spaceman for another week or two at least–just got an email a little over a week ago about this and it said 4-6 weeks, so I figured 2-3 weeks more likely.

But here it is–it was also left at the apartment office with my AvX book.

I don’t remember truly “noticing” Spaceman when it was being put out in single-issue format from Vertigo.

But it was one of the books being offered as a “giveaway” or whatever at Goodreads, and I’ve been trying to put my name in the hat for all the DC giveaways, figuring what the heck…not losing anything but a few moments of my time doing so, and with stuff like the New 52 hardcovers and whatnot, “any win” would be a bonus.

spacemanpriceSo one book that I honestly didn’t even have any interest in, and I wound up “winning” it–but looking at the back cover, reading the basic premise and flipping through it (and realizing it’s Vertigo!) I’m looking forward to actually reading this. And as said…didn’t cost ME anything but a few moments to put my name in.

Cost THEM almost $10 to ship it to me…sorta wonder why they didn’t use a media mail option, but I won’t complain.

avxhardcoversideJust over a year ago, I posted a comparison of three 18/19-issue collected volumes with questionable pricing.

This AvX volume can join that set with the same question: why not price stuff on a standard? If a standard-trim paperback with 18-19 issues has a cover price of $40, why is one hardback with 18-19 issues $65 and another with 19-20 issues $75?

AvX is practically an “omnibus” itself–it has the entire 12-issue event series, the #0-issue/prologue, the “Versus” all-fight issues and even the previously digital-only “infinity” comics that were interspersed…then again, I guess this would have to contain AvX Consequences to be an Omnibus.

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