In Which I Receive a Book in Deplorable Condition

Being a fan of English women’s novels, I was agog when I learned that several of Stella Gibbons’s books have been reissued as Vintage Classics editions in the UK.

And so I ordered an inexpensive copy of Stella Gibbons’ Westwood from a UK bookseller via Abebooks.

The bookseller’s description said it was in “good or better” condition.

It has no tears to the pages and no pages will be missing from the book. The spine of the book is still in great condition and the front cover is generally unmarked. It has signs of previous use but overall is in really nice, tight condition. Shipping is normally same day from our UK warehouse. We offer a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.

Finally the book arrived. Oh, joy!  I couldn’t wait to curl up on this snowy, freezing cold winter day with Westwood.

I hoped my book in "good" condition would resemble this.

I hoped my book in “good” condition would resemble this.

It is in deplorable condition.  In fact, I’ve never seen a book in worse condition.

There are tracks and blobs of something jammy mixed with glitter on the cover.

My cousin has this suggestion:  “Perhaps it’s jism with glitter thrown on.”

Yes, it is really that gross.  Not only is the glitter disgusting, but the spine is cocked (the book is practically bent in half) and the cover is very creased.

And so I went to the bookseller’s website to figure out where this  book has been.

In 2004, ____ was founded by a group of people who loved reading and wanted to spread the love with like minded bookworms. They found that despite the sometimes pricey nature of tomes on highstreet, there were many other cheaper sources of books which were either being thrown away, were sitting around idle on dusty bookshelves or being sent directly to paper recyclers for pulping. Having experimented in one unfortunate mother’s basement (sorry Mum!) to see if these could be sold online, they found there was great demand for used books and that customers always knew a good bargain when they saw one.

I can tell you why they’re not selling on “highstreet.”

It’s very much a “Caveat Emptor” situation when you order used books online. I have had good luck with ordering books in “very good”condition, but this “good” book was a disgrace to booksellers everywhere.

P.S.  The copy of Westwood went into the trash.  And I have written demanding a refund.

I’ll let you know what happens.

11 thoughts on “In Which I Receive a Book in Deplorable Condition

  1. I have received books in terrible condition from awesomebooks but not from the British sellers on Awesome always refunded my money and told me to keep the book. If you don’t mind, I’d like the name of the seller so I can avoid him.


  2. I *so* empathise with you Kat – I have hideous experiences with filthy bent books described as Very Good, although usually from the Big River rather than Abe. Having said that, I have had a couple of issues with the latter, particularly with one book which was heavily foxed and hadn’t been described as such – and the seller was a bit snotty about it. I have complained about many Big River books in recent months and they always seem to refund and say keep the book. Which is fine, but not the point – I want to know accurate condition when I buy and not have to keep messing about like this. As you might guess, this is one of my regular bugbears and something I feel strongly about….

    (The problem I find with Big River resellers is that some of the worst offenders are selling under different names!)


    • Karen, it is so discouraging! This particular bookseller sells on Abebooks and Amazon . I have mostly had good experiences both with Abebooks and Amazon. it seems to me that condition doesn’t leave much room for dissension. A book with underlining and notes in the margin is not “Like New!” A book with glitter-jam on the ocver and a borken spine is not “good!”

      How dreadful that you’ve found booksellers going back and selling under different names! Yes, I hate these interactions trying to get a refund. But I did hear this morning that I’m getting a refund, so great, but we don’t want to go through this! That book shouldn’t have been for sale.


  3. I’ve had the same thing happen as well, but was given refunds/new copies in every case. I try to buy from smaller companies who do check books before sending them out, rather than the larger ones who post a generic description to say that a book “may show signs of wear”. Hope you get to read Westwood! It’s both melancholy and funny ha ha. My favourite Gibbons’ novel is Nightingale Wood, though. Have you read that? If not, I think you’d enjoy it a lot.


    • Some of the booksellers never let me down. I have had good luck with betterworldbooks. And I did get a refund! It’s just so annoying to open a package and get a piece of trash!

      I am waiting for my copy of Westwood from another bookstore and will Nightingale Wood to my list. It’s always so much fun to discover a “new” author (well, I do know Cold Comfort Farm).


  4. I have Westwood also. I should read it one of these days. I found an excellent copy of The Diaries of Jane Somers last week for $1.50. I’m pretty sure I read about it here, right?


    • I hope my copy of Westwood will be in good shape! I’m looking forward to it. Yes, I love Diaries of Jane Somer. $1.50 is such a good price… I myself am going for the cheap editions unless they’re falling apart.


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