I set out to do some errands a few days ago, and one of my stops was to the post office to send off some of my books across the Pond. I expected it to be a quick transaction, especially since I had the books already packaged, labeled and ready to go. But instead, it turned out to be a mathematics expedition.
Allow me to preface this by saying, when I was in Arizona this past winter, I’d sent a few books to a friend who lives in California – three or four, I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember I was offered ‘special book rates’ and the whole shebang cost me $6.00. Now let’s fast forward to the other day to my Canada Post for the rich and famous.
Okay, here goes. Last winter one of my American author friends suggested we do book exchanges with our books. I thought that would be fun and so I took a copy of each of my books for Tina to send off to her in California from Arizona where I spent most of the winter because the postage everywhere is cheaper than from Canada. When I received Tina’s books in Arizona, she’d sent two copies of her latest book, Vampyrie, one for me, and one to give our friend Sally when I was to see her, supposedly, at the Blogger’s Bash in London this past June, but due to circumstances, I never made that trip. And Tina’s (not so small) book for Sally remained wrapped on my bookshelves.
A month ago, Sally and I decided we were also going to swap a few of our books which we hadn’t read yet. I thought that was perfect and remembered that I still had Tina’s book to give Sal so I wrapped up all the books in parcel paper, and took them to the post office. I thought it would be a quick transaction until the clerk got out her measuring tape and placed my package on the weigh scale and told me “That will be $64 to send them to Ireland”. I just stood there with my mouth opened and asked her if she was kidding. But she wasn’t.
I ranted about the cost of everything in my country and how shameful the government is for not giving writers a break with books to educate readers like they do in the U.S. In the middle of my manic moment, I took apart the parcel I had so meticulously wrapped and said, “Okay, if you want to play the measurement game, let’s go through these books one at a time.” As I handed them to her one-by-one, asking her to give me a cost per each book to try and bring down the deficit, she noticed they were all by the same author, and in her best effort to remain cheery through my tirade, commented, “You must really like this author’s books.” I laughed out loud while trying to take in the mathematics of the various methods of re-packaging the books to get a better rate, and informed her, I was the author of those books. Her mouth hung open in a gasp as she blushed and told me how honored she was to meet a real author. I took in my moment, but wasn’t sidetracked by my disappointment of the price to send off my books to Ireland. But she became a little more sympathetic to my complaint.
The clerk had mentioned that if any of the books could easily slide through a mailbox slot I could send it through a cheaper rate. One book could, so I packaged that separately. I packaged the other 2 of my books up and just made it under the allowable weight before the next price hike. But Tina’s book, yes, Tina’s book, was POINT ZERO ONE over the weight before the jump from $18,00 to $32.00. I was livid. The lineup was growing by this point but I was in no hurry to leave yet. I asked the clerk if she was seriously going to charge me an extra $14,00 on top of the $18.00 to send one bloody book and she replied by telling me she had no choice because it would be weighed again and if there wasn’t sufficient postage paid it would come back on her. Needless to say, I was losing my ‘pretend’ friendly patience and said “Give me back that book! Do you know I could buy this damn book 3 times over with the price you’re charging me?” I paid her to send off the other books, which subsequently, I managed to get them all off for $28.00 and took Tina’s book back home with me. But I had another plan.
My best friend is in town, visiting from the U.K. Yes, I am giving her Tina’s book to take back with her next week and mail it off to Ireland so Sally can finally get her copy. So how many miles will Tina’s book have traveled? Okay, I’m not a mileage expert. But suffice it to say, Tina’s book came from California to Arizona to Toronto, soon to be going to England, where it will finally be sent to Ireland for a mere 5 bucks!
What’s the moral of this story? Do your math homework before sending things across borders. Canada is exceedingly expensive to send anything anywhere, including within Canada. Now you non Canadian authors can appreciate why us Canadian authors don’t like to do paperback book promotions. Ordering my own books from Amazon, costs me more than the retail price of the book after I pay U.S. shipping to Canada and then convert to our lesser dollar. It’s an author’s madness!