Re: Helpful help

1

Yes, if you are doing it in the background while doing other things. If you are paying sole attention to it it's a PITA. Other people think/type so fucking slowly. I had an online chat dialogue with an Adobe support rep recently and it was like the Two Ronnies 'Mastermind' sketch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvmRI6K8TS8


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:21 AM
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If you are paying sole attention to it it's a PITA.

If you are paying sole attention, you probably don't have small children.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:22 AM
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This online chat thing involves a human being at the other end? I never even imagined that that would be the case.

Sounds like a good idea for techno-things and Comcast.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:23 AM
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If you are paying sole attention to it it's a PITA.

Isn't this what Unfogged is for?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:24 AM
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This online chat thing involves a human being at the other end?

Yes. Prasanth at Amazon.com was extremely helpful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:25 AM
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Yes, if you are doing it in the background while doing other things.

I think that's a given in this set.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:38 AM
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This online chat thing involves a human being at the other end?

So Alan Turing would have you believe.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:43 AM
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Was this supposed to be funny?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/opinion/21david.html?src=me&ref=general

I don't get it.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:46 AM
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Chat is definitely better than the other options, unfortunately it doesn't change the fact that the person on the other end is typically useless.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:56 AM
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Comcast's online chat took me 45 minutes to set up new service, mostly because of the inane script the customer service representative had to follow. I was not a fan.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 10:59 AM
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mostly because of the inane script the customer service representative had to follow

Yes, IME chat support is even worse than phone support for the inane scripting. Although it is usually much easier to get through the scripting while doing other things and only half paying attention, so maybe it's a wash.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 11:02 AM
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I think I may have mentioned this before, but my cable got really slow. It took like five seconds to change channels, which completely obliterates the whole point of watching TV. Comcast's tech support had it fixed in 30 seconds and it only took a minute or two to get a human on the phone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 11:05 AM
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A Facebook friend of mine posted a chat he had with a Comcast representative about how awesome Dexter is. I think he got the customer service he was looking for in the process.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 11:26 AM
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In general though, chat customer service is something I am a fan of; I really don't like talking on the phone to strangers and I have a hard time understanding different accents (American or otherwise) over the phone.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 11:46 AM
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13: I had a funny conversation with a NetFlix support guy about Veronica Mars.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 11:46 AM
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8: Since it's Larry David, it's probably supposed to be funny. Since it's Larry David, it isn't.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:17 PM
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16: Well put.

But isn't Curb Your Enthusiasm supposed to be funny? And wasn't he associated with another show that was supposed to be funny?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:19 PM
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16 to 17.2


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:21 PM
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Yeah, but Seinfeld was years ago, and none of the CYE episodes I've seen (not that there are many) have made me laugh. Perhaps he peaked in 1995.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:23 PM
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18: Ok. I'm having my hourly realization that I'm rather dim.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:27 PM
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At worst, if customer service can't help you, you'll find that out much faster and with less mental strain by chat than by phone.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:47 PM
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Also, chat has the advantage that if you want to rant about your service on the internet you have a transcript ready to go.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 12:49 PM
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Speaking of customer-service experiences, I was surprised last time I had an issue with my cell phone (that is, with the actual phone) to be shunted off to a brick-and-mortar store for service. The previous replacement experience had been totally painless. (New phone arrived in the mail, along with prepaid shipping labels to send back the defective unit.)

This time around, the rep on the phone said we couldn't do the replacement that way, since I now "qualified" for in-store service. Um, sweet. Because I totally enjoy standing around for an hour in your understaffed mini-mart location, waiting for someone to become free enough to get me a new phone from the store room.

Anyway, minor annoyance, but I'm not sure why they're pitching this in-store option as if it's a convenience feature.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 1:06 PM
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I thought Curb was really funny when I watched it, but I was also smoking a lot - a LOT - of pot. Now I occasionally try to watch it, and inevitably end up watching something else. I do think it had its moments, but those moments may have required a lot of investment if you weren't stoned.

Seinfeld was only ever funny in spite of Seinfeld himself, although I suspect, given the novelty of the "about nothing" genre at the time, there was something in seeing some bizarro (shut UP, Seinfeld didn't originate that reference) version of one's own life turned into something entertaining and passably interesting? I don't know, I was really young. Elaine was pretty awesome.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 1:09 PM
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23: Because it's clearly not a convenience, it just saves them money on shipping. Would be my guess.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 1:11 PM
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(shut UP, Seinfeld didn't originate that reference)

People think that? Poor DC Comics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 1:16 PM
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25: they're pitching it as a convenience because it's clearly not a convenience?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 1:17 PM
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I think it's the "baldfaced lie" strategy. It's so illogical either it slips right by or it leaves you too nonplussed to complain.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:01 PM
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What gets me is that, presumably some go-getter in upper management crunched the numbers between renting and staffing these retail stores/CS centers vs. handling CS issues via mail/UPS/FedEx, and it really is cheaper to do the former. But is the difference really that great? My replacement phone still had to be UPS'd to the local store. At that point I travelled the last five miles of the phone's journey to actually pick it up.

I bet Knecht has opinions about this sort of thing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:12 PM
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29: they shipped all those phones together, freight. Just shipping you your phone is considerably more expensive on a per unit basis, would be my guess. They're still being annoying about it, though.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:15 PM
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28: "you're eligible for the Chewbacca service plan!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:17 PM
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Comcast's online chat took me 45 minutes to set up new service, mostly because of the inane script the customer service representative had to follow. I was not a fan.

My only online chat was with comcast. It took a lot of time and they couldn't do what a phone guy did very easily.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:27 PM
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32: I had a recent go round with Apple that went the same way. It could have been straightened out with a phone call in 30 seconds, but insteand we typed back and forth for 40 minutes.

Actually, I also had another Apple encounter wherein, after talking to a phone tech for 45 minutes, he decided I needed to go to the genius bar. That was fucking not going to happen the week before Christmas. (The Apple stores in NYC are jam packed with tourists on ordinary days; I don't even want to know about Christmastime.) It was also fucking not going to happen because it was pointless. The GB people weren't going to be able to fix it either, and were just going to send it off to Cali. and I saw no reason why I shouldn't just send it off to Cali. without dicking around with the Genius Bar. That's what ended up happening, but not without my being, er, persistent.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:38 PM
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Many users have a very hard time distinguishing between a broken device and persistent user error. Forcing them into the store prevents a phone replacement. Also, if you don't know what you want, maybe you buy a leather phone sock or earbuds from the phone company instead of eBay and their profit doubles.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:46 PM
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I bet Knecht has opinions about this sort of thing

Not particularly well-informed ones. It's hard to imagine that the full cost of the bricks-and-mortar location are any lower; pick-and-pack logistics have enormous scale efficiencies, both in handling cost and inventory carrying cost. (OTOH, the incremental cost of serving one more customer at a poorly utilized store front might well be lower.)

My guess is that getting the customer into the Bricks-and-mortar store is an end in itself. Once you are there, they can upsell you on a nicer model, sell you a charger or skin at a 1000% markup, sign you up for a more expensive data plan, etc.

Car rental companies resisted the obvious labor-saving appeal of check-in kiosks for a long time for essentially the same reason.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:55 PM
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Is the car rental company upsell really such a deal for them? I mean, I know the supplemental insurance is a gold mine, but what about the size upsell?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 2:56 PM
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36: size upsell is marginally profitable, but the rental is overall a loss leader to sell the insanely profitable LDW/PAI


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:01 PM
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36: size upsell is marginally profitable, but the rental is overall a loss leader to sell the insanely profitable LDW/PAI


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:01 PM
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35: My guess is that getting the customer into the Bricks-and-mortar store is an end in itself. Once you are there, they can upsell you on a nicer model, sell you a charger or skin at a 1000% markup, sign you up for a more expensive data plan, etc.

You'd think that, but every time I've gone in to the bricks-and-mortar storefront of my cellphone company (it's a major one), they've been totally NOT about the hard sell. In fact, they've instructed me on how to game the system of phone replacement. This could be the particular storefront of course, as it is the one where you'd expect the least labor discipline and most employees having their own scams running. But still.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:18 PM
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Give, Natilo. How do you game the system of phone replacement? My dumbphone is Nearly Dead.


Posted by: Cady | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:28 PM
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Well, I'm not sure how broadly applicable this is, and it's not free, but rather than going through the rigamarole of getting the phone directly from T-Mobile, the clerk at the T-Mobile store had me walk down to the nearby Target, by one of the T-Mobile prepaid phones (but no minutes for it), and just switched the SIM card. I mean, you could do this with any GSM phone, right? I just wanted a particular model that they weren't currently selling through T-Mobile. So as methods for gaming the system go, it's hardly something to get excited about, but it was a lot less hassle than it could have been.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:32 PM
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buy


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:33 PM
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Also, I think this was actually the second time I did this. Prior to that the phone had been lost completely, and he had me buy the phone from Target and then just popped in a new SIM card for free. Which was awful nice of him, I thought.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:34 PM
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the rental is overall a loss leader to sell the insanely profitable LDW/PAI

Literally a loss leader? That seems incredible.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:36 PM
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I think the main thing about phones is that the 2-year contract plans are often quite expensive--that's why they can subsidize the phones so heavily--so you're probably better off with a lower cost prepaid thing. For example, I see that with t-mobile you can get 1500 (minutes + texts) + 30MB data for $30/mo.; the cheapest 2-yr plan is $39/mo, by contrast, and that's with only 500 mins, no txt or web.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:53 PM
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Phone contracts make me feel like a moron -- I cannot focus my attention on them enough to rationally comparison shop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 3:57 PM
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I frequently have Apple experiences where I buy the special Apple earbuds, because I like the remote control in the middle of one of the cords, and then I forget that they inevitably start going in and out after three months, instead of the nine months that the cheapo earbuds last.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:00 PM
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Well, they're sort of designed to be confusing and hard-to-compare. The main thing is that if you don't care about getting a fancy phone every two years, and perhaps even if you do, you're better off with a non-contract plan that doesn't give a subsidy. (T-Mobile's non-subsidy plans cost exactly $20 less/month than the subsidy ones, which translates to $480 over the contract length--considerably more than the phone subsidy.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:15 PM
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Which phone plan gets me a free one of these squishy robots with which to cuddle on cold nights? Because I'll take two of that plan.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:19 PM
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Thanks, X and natilo, that's very helpful help.


Posted by: Cady | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:23 PM
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The other thing that's tricky about cell phones in the USA is that they don't all use the same frequencies/technologies, so, if you do buy your phone separately, you need to be sure it's compatible. AT&T and T-Mobile both use GSM, but they use different 3G frequencies, for example. It's a pain.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:26 PM
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Yes, I do not believe in smartphones though, so that is not an issue for me.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:30 PM
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I didn't used to believe in smartphones, but then C got me one (because he deals with all phone business in this house, seeing as I'm just a laydee) and I fucking love it and use it all the time.

And I think CYE is funny.

So there.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:36 PM
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Yeah, I find my smartphone incredibly useful. It's a shame it's quite shit as a phone, but since 99% of the use I make isn't voice-calling, I can live with it.

I have a work colleague who was pooh-poohing mine, and then [nerd alert] I opened a VPN connection to our work network, secure shelled into one of our solaris boxes and restarted some frozen processes from my phone. And her face was shut, as they say.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:39 PM
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I'm pretty impressed by what even "dumb" phones can do these days. I bought a used one of these for €70 in the summer--fast 3G speeds, Opera Mini for a browser, GMail, a decent German-English Java dictionary, etc. I haven't gone looking for a VPN program, but there are definitely SSH clients available for J2ME.

And it's the most adorable thing ever. Sooo süüüüßßß.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:47 PM
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I wish there was a way to get certified as a competant customer. When they start making you do stupid things becaus they think you're an idiot you say "but I'm certified as competant, my ID # is..." and then they have to stop treating you like you don't know what you're talking about.

Someone I was talking to recently said that being a certified repairer/dealer for a product has this effect even if you're calling about your personal computer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "pause endlessly, the go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 4:47 PM
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There's an xkcd strip relevant to 56. I'm not going to link to it, but I'm mentioning it so that teo doesn't have to.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:02 PM
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süüüüßßß

"süß" and "schön" may be my most-liked German words, when they're ranked according to sound.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:03 PM
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Suggesting that you deserve to be certified as "competant" may say something about the certification-worthiness of your competence.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:03 PM
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57: This one, neb?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:04 PM
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I AM COMPETANT, MORANS.


Posted by: OPINIONATEAD HALFORD | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:10 PM
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58: me, too. Although it really depends on the speaker--there's a sort of old-man-wheezing German that just sounds awful, no matter what the words are.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:11 PM
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60: I preferred it in the form of comment #56. Less smug.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:12 PM
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Here are some pleasant sounds.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:18 PM
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"süß" and "schön" may be my most-liked German
words, when they're ranked according to sound.

Depends on the context.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:21 PM
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According to sound, KR.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:27 PM
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55: I'm pretty impressed by what even "dumb" phones can do these days.

Okay. I, uh, thought that a "dumb" phone was one that couldn't connect to the internet. Just a telephone, in other words, though wireless. Since this is apparently not the case, what's the difference between the kind of dumb phone outlined in 55 and a smart phone?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:37 PM
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67 gets it right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:40 PM
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I really shouldn't have said "dumb phone", since what I really meant was "feature phone": a term used to describe a low-end mobile phone that has less computing ability than a smartphone, but more capability than a "dumb phone." The term was originally used to describe mobile phones which had features which weren't available on most other contemporary mobile phones, and smartphone and feature phone were not mutually exclusive categories. As mobile phone technology advanced, newer low-end phones were categorized as feature phones, and by 2007, the smartphone and feature phone categories were considered mutually exclusive.

Smartphones, by contrast, are generally distinguished by having a "real" operating system like Symbian, iOS, Blackberry's, WinMe, Android, etc.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:51 PM
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My phone may not be smart in a book-learning sense, but it has *emotional* intelligence.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:52 PM
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Err, so to clarify a bit: cameras, QWERTY-keyboards, Java, music/video playing, data access, web browsers, even 3G and wifi--all of that is still within the realm of "feature phone." Smartphone is about having a certain sort of OS, which allows more in the way of fancy programs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:55 PM
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Some carriers even insist that smartphones pay more for dataplans than featurephones (on the assumption that they can get away with it, since smartphone-owners will be less budget-constrained and more desperate for data access).


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:57 PM
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Got it! Thanks, x.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 5:59 PM
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||

Are other people still battling stink bugs? I feel like I must work in the building where they've decided to mount their Final Stand Against Humans or something. (And they're losing, but very, very slowly.)

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:11 PM
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||
Television note: "Skins" is sorta entertaining, but it's no "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Really, it just makes me feel old.
|>


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:14 PM
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57: Thank you! I read 56 and it seemed so familiar.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:17 PM
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74: Yes. Not battling, exactly, but they keep turning up in unexpected places. We put that thin insulating plastic (the kind you blow-dry taut) on the windows here for the winter, and had to take down some roll-up bamboo shades in order to do so: out rolled a good two dozen stink bugs. They're turning up in the course of winterizing in other ways as well, from stacks of folded-up blankets and so on. Lovely.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:20 PM
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74: I've been killing about five to ten a week since whenever this started. I thought the bitter cold might have nailed them, but not so far.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:33 PM
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One was pacing the ceiling above the stairs, where the ceiling is about 14 foot high. It seemed to say, "You are too lazy to get the big ladder, so you can't get me." I knocked it down with a towel and flushed it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:35 PM
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I'm pretty impressed by what even "dumb" phones can do these days.

Are there "dumb" phones that are smarter than "smartphones"? Because I don't think I'm difficult to impress, and yet I've been 100% unimpressed by every model of blackberry I've owned. It's great for sending work emails, and completely useless for any other purpose. (Oh, it works okay for phone calls, I guess.) Trying to do anything on the internet with it makes me want to slit my wrists.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:41 PM
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78: Same here. They pop out of things like stored sheets or you find one or two a day scuttling across the ceiling. We keep covered jars of isopropyl alcohol upstairs and downstairs and drop them in when we find them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:42 PM
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78: In fact I suspect the bitter cold has motivated some of the ones who chose poorly in the fall to migrate further into the house.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:44 PM
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makes me want to slit my wrists.

There's an app for that!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:44 PM
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80 -- At this point, it's like talking up some band from 2007 as the hot new thing, but I've been pretty amazed at what a life changer the IPhone has been. I use it for all kinds of things. My old BB was slightly better for sending work emails but otherwise completely sucked by comparison; so much so that it was essentially a different product.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:45 PM
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and flushed it

You can call that killing if you really want to, Moby, but your bloodthirst is running a little tepid, if you ask me. Not that I would mix metaphors or anything. You at least do a fist-pump and yell out "Die, motherfucker, die, die!" as you flush, I hope.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:45 PM
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I get that the iphone is a night and day difference. But are even some dumbphones these days better for browsing the internet than my supposedly intelligent blackberry?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:51 PM
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85: I'm feeding the rat I keep in the sewer pipe. I got the idea from Natilo a couple of days back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:51 PM
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I guess, to rephrase: are iphones still notably superior to other phones on the market, or are blackberries just notably inferior?


Posted by: urplpe | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:53 PM
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81: I suspect mine are in the attic, but that maybe be my own comforting delusion (I won't open a towel and find 800 of them, I won't open a towel and find 800 of them, I won't ...). If they are in the attic, I'm assuming they won't survive much longer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:54 PM
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84: My problem is that sending work emails is such an enormous part of what I carry a BB around for. (My other problem is that Verizon doesn't offer the iPhone, but apparently that's going to be solved shortly.)


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 6:56 PM
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My problem is that sending work emails is such an enormous part of what I carry a BB around for.

It's 100% of what I carry a BB around for, but that's at least partly because the BB is such shit for any other purpose. If it did more things well, I feel like I'd do more things with it, and then all of a sudden sending work emails would only be part of what I carried it around for.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:03 PM
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I was very impressed by the Android phone I had--an HTC Desire--for the three weeks I owned it before it was stolen. I thought it was cooler than the 1st gen iphone, at any rate.

Both Android and iOS are very, very good about web browsing; I don't think Blackberry made that a big priority, though I've never used a BB.

I think even the newer features-phones--at least the ones that have big touchscreens--are likely to give a very solid web experience.

Surely you have some gadget-freak friends, right? Ask to borrow their phone for a day or whatever.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:05 PM
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The Iphone's not that much worse for work email, though -- I do it all the time -- and everything else is so, so much better. It's way better for reviewing and even editing work documents. I probably use it 80% for work and it's a huge improvement.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:07 PM
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I don't have friends, x. And do people really let their friends borrow their phones for a day? That seem... odd. And potentially inconvenient.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:08 PM
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I have an iPhone now but will probably try some manner of Android next. I've never used one but I assume that newer BBs are getting better at browsing, as represented in these stats (measure from a sample of websites).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:27 PM
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I really like my Android phone, the HTC Evo. I use it mostly for browsing and email. Two separate people have told me that they can tell when I'm emailing from my phone, because my emails get significantly shorter. So, that's...something.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:29 PM
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95: "represented in" s/b "suggested by"

Tired and crotchety.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:37 PM
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95: so, looking at that link, by "newer" you mean this calendar year?

My current BB was considered top of the line when I bought it in December 2009, and it's absolute shit. (Which is part of why I'm coming across as bitter about this. I spent more than I otherwise would have because I was tired of dealing with a useless piece of shit, and thought something that could actually do something very simple like, you know, check the score in a game, or look up something online, in under 10 minutes would be a big improvement. But I got actually zero performance improvement out of the thing. Zero.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 7:43 PM
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98: Not sure what model you have. Every once in a while they seem to crap one out that is pure shit. And yes I think it is the browser with version 6 (out this year) that is supposedly finally decent (although there is no doubt that RIM is in a desperate scramble to keep up and there is a good chance they will go the way of Palm).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:03 PM
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To merge threads, an alternate view expressed by someone with skin in the game.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:06 PM
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But here's what may be the worst mobile device ever: The TwitterPeek. "Everything you love about Twitter packed into a slim, lightweight mobile gadget -- tweet anywhere, anytime." You know what else it does? Absolutely nothing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:19 PM
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101: And only $100 for six months!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:21 PM
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A device that will finally allow Sifu Tweety's to live up to his handle. We should take up a collection.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:25 PM
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-'s


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:25 PM
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101: Wow. That's officially the stupidest thing I've heard about in quite some time.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 8:56 PM
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98: Urple, I suspect your device will only support version 5 but I think you could install either the Opera or Bolt (and maybe others) browsers. I'm not that knowledgeable on BBs, but know some folks who are. if you want send me an e-mail.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 9:11 PM
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105: Maybe you didn't see this in an official capacity. After two pissed-off exes go back to their lawyers to fight over something, it will cost way more than $100 for six months.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 9:32 PM
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That didn't go right. I was trying to link to the "I want to marry a girl just like the one that married the father of the kid that sits next to my kid at lunch" article.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 9:34 PM
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"My blackberry's not working!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-21-10 9:35 PM
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re: 88

I guess, to rephrase: are iphones still notably superior to other phones on the market...

My iPhone has piss-poor voice quality, and loses signal on voice calls much more readily than my previous Sony Ericsson phone did. The iPhone camera is also a total joke. In both respects my ancient/decrepit K800i was vastly superior. The K800i had a surprisingly decent camera for a phone.

On the other hand, for everything else, it's completely fantastic [with all the party like it's 2007 caveats already mentioned above]. There are probably a dozen or so apps that I use daily and which are incredibly useful either for work, or for music or photography stuff that I do.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:45 AM
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For example, I see that with t-mobile you can get 1500 (minutes + texts) + 30MB data for $30/mo.; the cheapest 2-yr plan is $39/mo, by contrast, and that's with only 500 mins, no txt or web.

I never cease to be amazed by how badly American mobile carriers are ripping off their customers. American phones are severely gimped by default, the range of models is greatly reduced (hardly any Nokias free on contract, for instance), the handset subsidy is nowhere near as high as in Europe, and finally the actual contracts seem to be much more expensive. I'm on what I consider a goldplated contract with one of the more expensive carriers in the UK, and I'm "only" paying £40 inc. tax. For this, I get 2000 normal minutes, 5000 minutes on the same network, 5000 texts and unlimited data (it used to be 1GB/mo but they've just launched a new offer). Also, with this contract came an HTC Desire HD, a top end smartphone that pisses all over the iPhone in most respects and would cost £450 standalone, for free.


I guess, to rephrase: are iphones still notably superior to other phones on the market...

iPhones, qua smartphones, have never been notably superior to other phones on the market. Although I can understand Americans thinking that way given the state of the US smartphone market until the iPhone's release. It was basically Blackberry or bust, and Blackberries were and largely still are glorified two-way pagers. In Europe and Japan, by contrast, we'd had many far superior smartphones (in terms of features, signal quality, price, flexibility etc) for ages. Even now, after the iPhone's spectacular growth, Nokia sells more smartphones worldwide, let alone phones in general, than Apple and RIM combined. By the second generation iPhone, Apple was starting to catch up in features and, besides, the App Store had exploded and made the whole thing less about being a phone and more about being a cool PDA/games device that could make calls. But even so, there are plenty of better phones around. Nokia has stumbled recently and desperately needs to abandon or completely overhaul its Symbian OS, but HTC in particular has been producing handsets that make the iPhone look like a toy. Surfing the internet on the Desire HD browser is such a better experience than the iPhone/iPod Touch that it hurts, even setting aside Flash. Can you believe iOS wouldn't let you search text in a webpage until last month? That's basic browser functionality that wasn't added until halfway through the fourth generation of the iPhone.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:15 AM
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Rant ends...


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:16 AM
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HTC in particular has been producing handsets that make the iPhone look like a toy

True. HTC seems to own the market in the UK apart from the early adopters/Hoxtonians who have iPhones. There must be something about living next door to a Communist dictatorship that makes you really good at mobile communications technology. (I suppose "Shit! Here come the tanks!" isn't the sort of call you want to miss because you were out of the house.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:20 AM
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Actually, that's precisely how Nokia got started with mobility - see the SANLA90 secure messaging system, first issued in 1983.

However, they fucked the dog really badly with the developer aspects of Symbian OS (one day I'll tell you why I never finished FixMyStreet for S60) and they also made a lot of incredibly awful management decisions in the 2000s. "The only OS where new developers had to spend two days learning about strings..." Even the Python port was horrible to work with.

The really sad thing is that the EOL of Symbian is the finish for the whole Psion legacy, which made highly programmable pocket computers at sensible prices in the 1980s.

Regarding online chat, I suspect the big issue is that if you've gone to the trouble of setting up the system, as a business you actually care about customer service. Also, there's loads of start-up activity at the moment about web-VoIP integration and linking that with CRM. The nice thing about text is that you can do clever filtering and classifying things with it by keywords, Bayesian analysis and the like. And the social expectations involved aren't the same as telephony. Everyone's conditioned to drop what they're doing when a phone rings, which is probably one of the reasons call centres are such horrible workplaces.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:33 AM
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At the time I got my iPhone [about a year back], I had a fiddle with the HTC models available to me at the time, and wasn't completely convinced but that was, I think, the Hero, which wasn't even the most up to date phone they had out then.

If I ever do jump ship to Android I'd need to be sure a couple of apps I use a lot were available, but I'd expect, given the growth in Android use, they probably would be.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:01 AM
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Which apps are you thinking of? I could have a look for you. It's certainly true that the Android Marketplace has a lot of ground to catch up on the App Store, and the gulf for games is pretty vast, but for actual productivity stuff it seems to be comparable, if not better in some cases, given the greater flexibility of the OS.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:17 AM
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I really like my HTC Desire that I bought it off of Amazon, but for some reason its the "International Version", and I have yet to convince it that I don't live in Singapore.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:36 AM
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117: Chew gum while peeing in an elevator. When you don't get jailed, it will know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:39 AM
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There is probably a technical solution, but I have to write what I know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:45 AM
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My iPhone has piss-poor voice quality, and loses signal on voice calls much more readily than my previous Sony Ericsson phone did.

My dad told me yesterday that he assigns a "quota" of six dropped calls per day on his iPhone 4, so that he won't get mad until the seventh.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:46 AM
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re: 116

Well, I'd need a decent ssh client, VPN access [I'd assume those are both standard things easily available on Android], I also make heavy use of iPeng [which controls squeezebox media players], and the Massive Dev Chart app [which is a dark-room app for photo work]. There are various other bits and bobs but they are all fairly standard things -- rss readers, guitar tuners, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:56 AM
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Well, on of the reasons I got an unlocked Android phone was so I could replace the stock ROM with one of those uber-hacker open-source customized ROMs. But it seems like I will actually have to get off my ass and do some work to make this happen, as opposed to just imagining what an awesome geek I would be if I did.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:56 AM
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Googling, it looks like there's an iPeng analogue for Android.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:58 AM
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I also have an IPad from work..... I'm impressed by how bad the Safari browser and the soft-keyboard is compared to my Android phone.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:03 AM
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iPhones are also really a pain to use with Linux. That was one reason I was half-glad to have my old one stolen, so I could upgrade to an HTC Desire. Of course, then that got stolen, so I downgraded to my Sony-E, and then realized I misplaced $5 somewhere.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:08 AM
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Don't know about SSH/VPN, but yeah, I'm sure there are loads. There seem to be quite a few squeezebox remotes, and there's an semi-official Massive Dev Chart app, with an official one coming in 2011. For RSS, I use FeedR, which syncs with Google Reader and has a nice widget for HTC Sense, but there are many, many options. And there are loads of guitar tuners.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:10 AM
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Not sure what model you have.

Tour 9630, I tihnk.

but I think you could install either the Opera or Bolt (and maybe others) browsers

I have opera mini installed and slightly more useless than the bb browser that came with the phone. (This is the only noticeable change from my prior bb, on which opera mini was slightly less useless than the bb browser that came with the phone.) So I don't really think the problem is the browser software, exactly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:24 AM
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So I don't really think the problem is the browser software, exactly.

Could be a PEBKAC issue.


Posted by: Smart-Alec IT Dude | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:27 AM
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More likely ID-10T, in this case. It's a mobile device, after all.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:29 AM
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I'm a Christmas elf! Let's be friends.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:48 AM
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Worth noting: you have to be a lot more careful with android phones than iphones. With an iphone you know what you're getting, android is a big mush of vendors who have screwed around with it. The best android phones are very comparable to an iphone 4, the worst of them are shite. caveat emptor. If you're choosing between iphone 4 and a good current android phone, there isn't a clear winner, they have different strengths.


Posted by: Dee Lurking | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:54 AM
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131: True enough. iPhones are a one size fits all product (storage capacity notwithstanding), whereas Android phones are, well, a range of phones from different manufacturers. Buy the one with the features and price that suits you.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:10 AM
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I have a phone, too. Neat! It plays Tetris.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:12 AM
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The best android phones are very comparable to an iphone 4, the worst of them are shite.

So which are which?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:40 AM
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My dad just got one called something like "Fascinate" or "Captivate" or "Prevaricate" or something. I have a four year old Razor dumb phone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:45 AM
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So which are which?

The ones that bother to keep up with the latest version of Android (currently 2.2 or 2.3) tend to be the good ones. The ones that can't be bothered to use a newer version than 1.5 are shite.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:56 AM
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Makes sense.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:58 AM
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135: Me too! We can be Luddite buddies!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:07 AM
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IYKWIMAITYD?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:12 AM
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This is my phone. It still works! Mostly.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:39 AM
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"This is my phone. There are many like it, but this one is mine."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:43 AM
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Related to the original topic.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:51 AM
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142: is that a real chat transcript? Because damn.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:02 AM
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Wow, k-sky, what a tale of woe.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:02 AM
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138: I'm more Luddite than you! My dumb phone has pay-as-you-go minutes!

I swear to god Pauly's comments are infectious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:09 AM
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I aim to please!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:18 AM
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It is a true thing.

Last month I had a great time ordering my very first smartphone (Droid 2 GSM, in the vain hope that I'm going to need to use it internationally; I quite like it). It ended up taking five calls and seven days longer than expected, and involved bungling by five contacts in two Verizon Wireless departments plus FedEx.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:22 AM
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142: Prior to a move, my sister arranged with her landline provider to transfer the number from her old address to her new one on such-and-such date. When this failed to happen, she called customer service:

Sister: Hi, I just moved and I arranged to have my number transferred to my new place, but the new line isn't working.
Serviceperson: Okay, can I have your name and account number?
Sister: [name], account xxxx.
Serviceperson: I have that you're dead.
Sister: No, actually, I'm alive.
Serviceperson: Well, but I have that you're dead.
Sister: ...


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:22 AM
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||
My British friends: Are Arrow Books paperbacks generally good quality? I'm interested in buying a couple online, but the same editions are listed sometimes as trade paper and sometimes as mass market.
|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:22 AM
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Not quite as good as a death, but yesterday I had to call AT&T and tell them that when I moved a month ago, they were supposed to discontinue my service and not keep billing me for it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:26 AM
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To 142 and similar tales: escalate, escalate, escalate! If you're not getting helpful help, ask for a supervisor. (I assume you can do that on chat. Me, I'm a phone person.)

Also, ask the service rep to document whatever s/he is doing in the notes. (IME, AT&T reps are usually very good about doing that without your having to ask.) If you have to call back, there's a record that the previous rep found your old account number or whatever and you don't have to go through it all again with the next rep or the supervisor. You'll still have maddening experiences, no doubt, but you may be able to get resolution quicker.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:32 AM
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142 is great. In particular,

I can't continue this conversation unless we can agree on a consensus reality.

is something I might have to start using on a weekly basis or more.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:35 AM
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152: Which reminds me, are your cow-orkers still trolling you about AGW?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:37 AM
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Are Arrow Books paperbacks generally good quality?

Not quite as good as a death

Not as good as Penguin either, but there are worse.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:44 AM
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153: Yeah, it's been coming up pretty often since I first went off on some people back in October. I think people find it amusing to provoke me now. "I didn't know you were capable of being passionate!" is how someone put it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:45 AM
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149: Kraab, where are you seeing the listings described as trade vs. mass market? (Some bookdealers don't necessarily know the difference.)

Checking the Random House page for Arrow Books, and its imprints info page, I get this:

Q. What do words like B Format, Demy Octavo and Royal mean?

A. These are book sizes and translate as follows:

A Format = 178mm x 110mm
B Format = 198mm x 129mm
Demy = 216mm x 135mm
Royal = 234mm x 153mm

Scanning a few of the titles at the first link, some are described as B format, others as A.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:45 AM
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The thing I don't like about phone plans is that I have almost no need of voice minutes, particularly if the carrier has some sort of "In Network" or something. I'd like to be able to pay for like, 100 anytime minutes and then get data instead for the same price. Why, why, why won't they do an à la carte plan, or at least mix and match?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:51 AM
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"I didn't know you were capable of being passionate!" is how someone put it.

This seems at odds with your internet persona. (Also, hilarious.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:52 AM
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152 reminds me of Larry Wilmore talking about secession commemoration. "Saying slavery was the cause of the South's secession during the Civil War isn't politically correct -- it's correct correct."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:54 AM
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||

I need to share with someone, anyone, an email that I just received from my father, that reveals his awesomeness:

"Meanwhile I marvel at the Neo Nazi Christian Right Wing Extrea/mists that are prevalent in this neck of the woods. Last week I was walking downtown in Wich/ita town when I was approached by a group of absolutely beautiful young folks beaming with christian fervor extolling me to " out a queer by the end of the year ". I replied by asking if they knew that God was an omni/sexual mammal, say what? By now they were red with rage and phisically agitated so I exscused my self by saying Oh I guess we wern"t created in his image after all, and moved on . Some one has erected a bill/board on old Hy 56 near the OK. border that reads you are now entering Kansas set your clock back one hundred years. I too watched the lunar eclipse untill obscured by high clouds then I put my bo/ng away and went to bed. Don"t worry I have a prescription."

(I added the weird and random google proofing just in case.)

|>


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:03 PM
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156: E.g., at Powell's. At the top it's listed as mass market but under product details the edition description is trade paper. Sourcebooks, who's reissuing Heyer's books in the U.S. is putting out very nice editions on good paper, but there are two titles they haven't reissued (and that my library doesn't have) but that Arrow has.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:05 PM
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Speaking of books, one of you lot recently mentioned a site, possibly of dubious compliance status w/r/t copyright law, where one could download free ebooks. A little bird told me that I would be getting a Kindle for Christmas, so if anyone could remind me of the URL, I'd much appreciate it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:11 PM
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157: The thing I don't like about phone plans is that I have almost no need of voice minutes

No kidding. I used 38 voice minutes last month. I have tons left over, not even getting into rollover minutes. Meanwhile, I have to add another $5 to my plan to get text messages, and $15 for a measly 200MB of data.

AT&T has a $30 plan for seniors that has 200 minutes - which is still more than I need, and still overpriced - but I'm afraid of signing up for it and then getting busted for being under 65.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:12 PM
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162: Gigapedia (I think?) was the old site, which has now shut down in favor of something I've forgotten but which is identified on the Gigapedia page.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:13 PM
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KR: Gigapedia.com


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:13 PM
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Nevermind, I found it (library.nu).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:13 PM
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161: Hrm. I had to do a text find on the Powell's page to see the "mass market" description. Do they sometimes show other paperbacks in that box to the right as "trade"? Otherwise I'd guess that the choices on the right just don't admit of "trade" as an option -- but that's a total guess.

Anyway, a search of that ISBN at the first Random House link in 156 shows that it's "B format", i.e. 198mm x 129mm, which sounds like trade to me, but it's hard to say about the binding or paper quality. It's not going to be the kind of pulp paper you'd find in a true mass market paperback, I would guess.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:28 PM
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Stanley took your five dollars, x. You can't be waving the Lincolns around when that boy is near.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:38 PM
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Speaking of books, Powell's recently auto-opted me into the used version of a hard-cover book I was buying. Is that normal for them or for booksellers in general? If it were for personal use, I'd probably go used, but it was for a gift and I didn't want to take any chances on the condition.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:39 PM
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Is that normal for them or for booksellers in general?

If it is it oughtn't be.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:41 PM
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The thing I don't like about phone plans is that I have almost no need of voice minutes, particularly if the carrier has some sort of "In Network" or something. I'd like to be able to pay for like, 100 anytime minutes and then get data instead for the same price. Why, why, why won't they do an à la carte plan, or at least mix and match?

Likewise, though at least I have unlimited data now on top of my ridiculous number of minutes. Though I doubt that will last long. Anyway, the reason they do it is that from the carrier's perspective, voice is cheap and data is expensive. It's all about bandwidth.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:52 PM
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Is that normal for them or for booksellers in general?

I don't know what's normal for Powell's. It's not normal in general, but then, there aren't many places online where you can buy both new and used in one place. I actually hadn't realized that Powell's sold new books. ("New" is a kind of confusing category anyway at this point, since it technically means direct, or provided by, the publisher, but is often used to mean a copy not provided by the publisher but in new condition. More than you wanted to know.)

Powell's may make more money by selling you their used copy, even if in "as new" condition, than by selling you a truly "new" copy provided by the publisher. But I have no idea how they're set up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:52 PM
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used to mean a copy not provided by the publisher but in new condition

Wait, so who's it provided by, in that case, some sort of publisher-authorized wholesaler?

More than you wanted to know

Not true! It's interesting.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 12:59 PM
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Powell's may make more money by selling you their used copy

They do. You find lots of rep and review copies there priced fairly close to new (I don't remember the pricing policy, but I'd guess around 80 percent), and they didn't pay close to usual cost for them.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:03 PM
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I've started downloading copies of my paperless e-bills for my phone service, and really should start doing that with everything important I get paperless. I've heard enough stories about business failures to manage electronic records properly to convince me that my previous "it's all IN THE CLOUD online" attitude is too risky.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:11 PM
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173.last: Well, okay.

so who's it provided by, in that case, some sort of publisher-authorized wholesaler?

A distributor. Technically a "new" book is one you buy from someone who's a distributor for the publisher: they buy from the publisher at wholesale (the whole price varies depending on publisher and distributor), and distribute to you.

So the new books you can buy at Barnes & Noble are "new" because B&N has buying agreements with various publishers. Never mind that some of the books on the shelves at your local B&N may be a little beat up condition-wise, due to shelfwear and handling; they're still technically "new."

Amazon, chiefly, has been responsible for a shift in the meaning of "new" and "used" such that they refer as much to condition as provenance. For example, I can sell a book on Amazon as "New" based on its condition (though I didn't get it from the publisher) for a third more than I can sell it as "Used - Like New." That's because buyers really like that word, "New."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:11 PM
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Sorry, I just realized I misread 173.1: Stanley was asking who provides an As-New copy that wasn't procured directly from the publisher.

A book dealer. Who didn't get it from the publisher.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:16 PM
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157: The thing I don't like about phone plans is that I have almost no need of voice minutes

Another area where I think European plans are much, much better. I have a pay-as-you-go one, and I can pay €10 for 30 days of unlimited data (though it gets throttled to 2G speeds after 200mb). So I basically pay about €15 a month, total.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:17 PM
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Or just a student who bought something from Barnes & Noble for a course, but never used the book at all, maybe dropped the course, and is now selling the book. It looks brand spankin' new, but it's technically not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:20 PM
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Thanks, parsimon. The distribution channels of the book-publishing world are...murky.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:21 PM
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179: The key thing is that new books unlike new CDs, DVDs, and various other products, are not usually sold wrapped in plastic.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:24 PM
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a student who bought something from Barnes & Noble for a course, but never used the book at all, maybe dropped the course, and is now selling the book. It looks brand spankin' new, but it's technically not.

Isn't this exactly what the "Used - Like New" designation is for? I would be incensed if I bought a "New" book, and found out it came secondhand from a student who hadn't read it. Even on amazon.com!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:29 PM
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182.last: Book cooties!!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:36 PM
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I'm kind of with Urple. Or, at least, as between those two categories I wouldn't care, so I'd always buy the cheaper, but I take the existence of "Used-Like New" to be a warranty that "New" means "This book has never been owned by any non-commercial entity", and it seems non-okay to not make that distinction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:40 PM
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Dammit! Gmail just decided to arbitrarily delete half an email thread that had been going on for two months and had attachments I wanted. Friggin' cloud.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:40 PM
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It's not about book cooties, it's just... so what does "Used-Like New" mean? "I read it, but never while eating potato chips, and I didn't dogear any pages"?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:43 PM
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184: Even if the book is still in shrink-wrap?

But yes, that is the technical definition of Used vs. New. Increasingly few people use it. Tough to know what to do if the book is still in shrinkwrap but has been owned by a non-commercial entity for a brief time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:46 PM
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It's totally about the book cooties. Plus, if it was a coursebook that was never used, what if it's somehow absorbed that student's sloth? What if it caused the sloth?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:48 PM
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185: It's not just in the trash folder?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:49 PM
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It's partly just the fact that if for whatever reason I've chosen "New" rather than "Used-Like New" (and I'm with LB in that I wouldn't normally do this, unless the book was a gift, and maybe not even then), and I've paid the 30% more as a result, I'd feel cheated to the tune of that 30%.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:50 PM
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Or course I'd never even know that I'd been cheated. Which makes it more, not less, worrisome. Some of my books might have cooties that I don't even know about!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:52 PM
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Actually, what really pissed me off was buying this expensive book and having it be terribly printed--it looked like it had come out of a 15-year old inkjet printer. And this from Oxford! I suspected it might have something to do with something it said about being digitally printed, but that doesn't make any sense. Anyone know anything about this? Does OUP have some books they just print-on-demand as really shitty 150-dpi PDFs or something?

Anyway, I returned it in a huff. I still want to read it.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 1:52 PM
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having it be terribly printed

The pages of the new book I ordered and just received seem to have been cut in some irregular fashion. I'm trying to decide that it's an acceptable quirk, but I'm pretty sure it's technically a defect. I previously ordered the exact same book for myself (this copy's a gift), and it was not cut this way.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:00 PM
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Literally shrink-wrapped, I have to admit that I wouldn't feel all that cheated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:01 PM
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185: It's not just in the trash folder?

Nope. It gave me a message that 20 messages in the current conversation had been deleted, with links to either View Messages or Delete Permanently. So I clicked on View Messages, and it showed me the messages, along with a nice, yellow message saying that they had now been Deleted Permanently.

I recognize that users do dumb things from time to time, but this time it was totally not my fault, I swear.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:02 PM
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190: I will tell you this only as a secret: I've experimentally listed the exact same book (of which we had several copies, all pristine) twice. Once as "New" for $30, and at the same time, with the same description (i.e. pristine) as "Used - Like New", for $20. The New copy sells first. I'm not conning anyone: buyers psych themselves out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:02 PM
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I don't see a lot of shrink wrapped books, unless they're packaged with CDs or something.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:03 PM
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I don't even see packaging.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:05 PM
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197: Law books.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:07 PM
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196: I hope you sent the buyer their $10 with the book, parsimon, along with a note explaining that they were part of an experiment testing how easily buyers could be duped.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:09 PM
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I'm not conning anyone: buyers psych themselves out.

If the book was owned by a non-commercial owner, you are conning them. They're silly to want to pay more for a literally new book, but if that's what they want, they should be able to trust a seller not to misrepresent their goods.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:09 PM
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And now that I think about it, I believe I have several times in the past seen the description "Used-Like New-Still in Shrinkwrap", which seems like a perfectly good way to convey that condition.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:17 PM
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If the book was owned by a non-commercial owner, you are conning them.

She's exacting the bookseller's revenge on the reader community for their nonchalant acceptance of book piracy.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:20 PM
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200, 201: There's something you may not understand: there is no objective value to a book. A book may be worth a certain amount at one time, and worth twice that two weeks, or two years, later. Or, god knows, worth nothing 6 months later.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:24 PM
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Honestly, even just "Like New-Still in Shrinkwrap" seems fine, since "Like New" fairly clearly implies "technically, Used".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:26 PM
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there is no objective value to a book

But there's a price people are willing to pay for a new book, and a price people are willing to pay for a "like new" book, and, as you attest, those things differ, so selling one advertised as the other seems wrong.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:28 PM
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204: There is no objective value. And "new" has no actual meaning.

This is amoral nihilism!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:31 PM
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[T]here is no objective value to a book.

What if it's a book by P.G. Wodehouse?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:34 PM
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201: They're silly to want to pay more for a literally new book, but if that's what they want

That's not what they want, in many cases: what they want is a book in New condition. Not necessarily never previously touched by a non-commercial entity. They're after condition, not provenance, in most cases.

And look, the traditional meaning of New vs. Used does have to do with provenance, and booksellers do stick with that in large part, but the vast majority of book buyers don't know that. If your "Used - Like New" copy in truly pristine condition languishes for months at $20 and sells instantly "New", you learn something.

This goes to 206 as well. Also, I blame Amazon.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:35 PM
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so selling one advertised as the other seems wrong.

And yet it makes everyone better off in the end. The buyer gets the satisfaction of believing their book is new, the seller gets a better price. And the book itself is objectively no different, regardless of being labeled as "new" or "like new".


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:35 PM
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Although, to be fair, I'm an amoral nihilist.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:39 PM
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That's not what they want, in many cases: what they want is a book in New condition.

Wouldn't someone who felt that way be looking in the "Used - Like New" category? I'd be more sympathetic to you if U-LN wasn't an option, because I'd think that people buying "New" probably did care more about the visible condition than the cooties. Someone who's buying "New" for more money, on the other hand, apparently does care.

But this is really an easy question. "I can get more money for selling this book if I lie about its provenance, and the buyer will never know the difference." If that's okay, would you forge an autograph to hike the value of the book? Same reasoning applies, but I doubt you would.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:41 PM
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I think "lie" is a bit harsh. We're essentially just arguing semantics here. If it looks new, feels new, smells new, etc., why shouldn't it be called "New"? On the opposite end of the continuum, if you had a book that had sat in a publisher's warehouse for 3 years, getting dinged up and degraded every time its carton was moved, but it was sent directly from the publisher to the bookstore, would you be under some obligation to call it "New -- With Significant Wear"?

As parsimon points out, these aren't hard-and-fast categories, they're malleable and have changed rapidly in the past few years. Very likely they will change again.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:47 PM
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Trouble is, if I see "Used - Like New", I don't actually believe its Like New. "Like New" is something used car dears write in soap on the windshield of an '08 Ford Focus with 12,000 miles on it. When I see "Like New" applied to books, I assume its the book equivalent of that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:48 PM
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212.last: I've already said that it's my considered belief that people who buy in the New category are not interested in the provenance but in the condition, and are not looking at "New" as defined in terms of provenance. So I'm not lying about its Newness, certainly not if it's still in shrinkwrap.

Please try not to insult me.

What make you of the fact that I withheld listing a book two weeks ago because the best we could get for it at the time was $10, but now, two weeks later, we are getting $25 for it? Was that dastardly on my part? (You could get it from someone else for $10 then, so I haven't cheated you.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:49 PM
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213: Relativist!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:49 PM
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Again, I'd be happier with that argument if U-LN weren't an available description. With U-LN in the mix, New has to mean something different: a claim that a book is New is a claim that it meets a standard that a U-LN book couldn't meet, and I don't see anything for that to be other than "it was never owned by a non-commercial owner".

It's not an important lie in the scheme of things, but I can't see any way to call it true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:51 PM
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What make you of the fact that I withheld listing a book two weeks ago because the best we could get for it at the time was $10, but now, two weeks later, we are getting $25 for it? Was that dastardly on my part? (You could get it from someone else for $10 then, so I haven't cheated you.)

I'm not understanding how this is any way parallel or or similar or otherwise comparable.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:51 PM
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215: I hope you don't consider my silly comments actual insults, parsimon!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:52 PM
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Some books about computer operating systems are available, like GNU.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:54 PM
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I've already said that it's my considered belief that people who buy in the New category are not interested in the provenance but in the condition, and are not looking at "New" as defined in terms of provenance.

Do you think the book would sell as "New" if you disclosed the provenance in the description? If you do, then I agree with you that there's nothing wrong with putting it in the "New" category, but I think you should be making the disclosure that it was previously owned.

If you think that disclosing in the description that the book was previously owned, albeit in pristine condition, would affect the buyer's willingness to buy it as New, then describing the book as New is an untruth; you're getting a higher price for it by misrepresenting its provenance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:55 PM
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Is it "New" if it never left Borders but some guy read it in the restroom?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 2:58 PM
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Say Theseus had a book and whenever somebody got a coffee stain on it, the damaged pages were removed and replaced with exact copies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:00 PM
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219: No, of course not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:02 PM
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224 to 222.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:04 PM
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Oh man I'm feeling a class action coming on. Time to see if anyone else got there first!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:04 PM
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218: I'm not understanding how this is any way parallel or or similar or otherwise comparable.

It's an imperfect analogy, but it was to go toward the idea that what I ask for something in one circumstance is untoward if I might have asked for something different in another circumstance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:08 PM
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226: What? With respect to people selling books in the "New" category on Amazon?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:14 PM
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I agree with Parsimon here but I do think "Like New" doesn't necessarily mean "Indistinguishable from New". It's because we don't know who is deeming it to be like new. What are their criteria for "like new"? Is it like new in every way that matters to YOU, but maybe one of those unnecessary pages at the front has been torn out, for whatever reason booksellers do that. Maybe you didn't even notice that, but it matters to the person buying it, or the person they're giving it to as a giffft.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:25 PM
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Amazon actually defines its terms:

# New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition.

# Like New: An apparently unread copy in perfect condition. Dust cover is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and are not marred by notes or folds of any kind. Book may contain a remainder mark on an outside edge but this should be noted in listing comments.

It doesn't use the language "no non-commercial owner", but it does require the seller to represent a New book as actually, rather than merely "apparently" unread. Short of shrinkwrap, I don't think there's any legitimate way to represent a previously owned book as meeting that standard. A shrinkwrapped book, on the other hand, I'd call "New" according to that definition.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:31 PM
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adding the words "shrinkwrapped" or "returned pristine" to the description is possible.

What about listing one edition without an existing amazon entry under the selling page for another that does have an entry, and noting the difference in the description? I've done this when I sell stuff.

Many buyers just want their stuff cheap and nice without having to wade through alternate editions or reading fine print. Some buyers care about remainder marks, others not-- remainders are marred and not individually owned, so letter-of-the-description new. There's really no interface that both makes searching simple and also makes details prominent. The biggest problem with small sellers and misrepresentation on Amazon is shipping time.

I am pretty sad about the inevitable PDFication of personal libraries, but quite enjoy the access afforded by liberry.nu


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:33 PM
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Short of shrinkwrap, I don't think there's any legitimate way to represent a previously owned book as meeting that standard.

No: there are sources of books whereby one might have a box full of identical copies, untouched (pristine). From the author's estate, say. Or an editor's estate; or an editor moving and selling off his/her accumulated stuff (complimentary copies and whatnot) that was, indeed, never read.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:37 PM
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Fair enough -- anything where we're talking about a carton of untouched copies of a book, something that there's good reason to believe never made it on to anyone's bookshelf, that seems plausibly "New" to me, and if that's all you're talking about, I wouldn't call that a misrepresentation by Amazon's stated standards.

But we can agree that 'Student bought the book and then seems to have dropped the class' doesn't meet that standard, short of shrinkwrap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:43 PM
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Parsi: How many books would you guess are sold on Amazon that are not "new" in terms of provenance but only in condition?

How many people are doing something close to what you describe in 196?

Roughly, what is the price difference -- 10%? 25%?

Also, when you sell books on Amazon, do you have to agree to some kind of term of service that represents that you've agreed to their book-classification scheme, aren't materially misrepresenting anything about the conditions of the books you're selling, etc.?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:45 PM
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Sorry, that first question should be: "How many books would you guess are sold on Amazon that are described as "new" but in fact are not "new" in terms of provenance, only in terms of condition?"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:46 PM
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My wife brings home 3 shirts from the store. Tries them on again, and decides to take two back. Get full refund, and they put the two returned shirts back on the rack. They're new.

I buy a book, and by the time I get home, I remember that I already own it. I take it back. They give me a refund and sell it as new.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:49 PM
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And in both cases, they are new because although title passed, the transfer was rescinded by mutual consent. (Which consent probably would not have been given had the items been damaged in any noticeable way.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:53 PM
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In what sense is a box full of identical copies from an editor's estate "brand-new"? I understand that those would be unused, unread and in perfect condition, but they're not "brand-new".

(What they are, in fact, is "like new": "an apparently unread copy in perfect condition" seems like a perfect description.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:53 PM
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234, 235: Friend, I couldn't guess. And I'm not going to help you with your class action lawsuit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:54 PM
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238: Mostly, if we're going to call "new" ambiguous, I don't think "brand-new" does anything to resolve the ambiguity. My reading of the term, obviously, is with you, but not strongly enough to say that it's a straightforward misrepresentation to describe a book that you have good reason beyond its condition to believe is actually unread as "brand-new".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 3:58 PM
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So if I find a box of books in my grandmother's attic, and she doesn't remember reading any of them, and they appear to be unread, I can sell them as "New" books, and describe them as "brand-new"?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:01 PM
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if we're going to call "new" ambiguous

I haven't conceded that. You seem to think it is, at least in Amazon's description, but it doesn't seem that way to me. You're right that it doesn't explicitly say "no non-commercial owner", but I think that's exactly what the word "new" means in standard commercial usage. "Brand-new" doesn't really mean anything different, but adds emphasis to the point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:05 PM
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she doesn't remember reading any of them

That's not a good reason to believe they're unread. "I have some professional reason to have cartons of books in my house that I don't read, and am now reselling" is -- if there's a box of the same book, I'd call that a good reason to think they haven't been read. Although I'm not sure who does have a professional reason to have boxes of the same book kicking around.

Single 'complimentary copies', on the other hand -- they wouldn't get handed out if people didn't read them sometimes. By the Amazon standard, that could be 'apparently unread', but I don't see how you could represent it as actually unread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:06 PM
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But "new" books have often been read, by customers in book stores who didn't buy the book and put it on the shelf. This is especially true of shorter books.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:11 PM
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Yeah, I'm with Urple. And there's likely to be a perfectly good lawsuit here, probably against Amazon but also against the major book sellers who use Amazon. Maybe I will bring it!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:11 PM
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You're right that it doesn't explicitly say "no non-commercial owner", but I think that's exactly what the word "new" means in standard commercial usage.

This is complicated by the fact that books generally aren't sold in packaging. Clothes on eBay are sold "New with tags", other stuff is "New in original packaging". That, I don't think is a representation as to provenance (I wouldn't be carping at an non-commercial seller of a toy in a sealed package as new), but a claim that the seller has knowledge that it's genuinely unused.

You usually can't make that representation for a book if you haven't been watching it since it left its last commercial owner, because there's no packaging to open or tags to take off. But under circumstances like Parsimon described, where a non-commercial owner had occasion to own boxes of new books for some reason other than reading them, that seems to as if you could represent them as genuinely unused, or 'new'. Likewise with the shrinkwrap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:14 PM
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245: Not against Amazon, probably, they do require sellers to agree to abide by their guidelines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:14 PM
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244: That's the same as Charley's objection. As long as the commercial owner believes that it's salable as "new", then it's new. A car doesn't turn into a used car because someone test drove it. Once you buy it and drive it off the lot, it's a used car instantly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:17 PM
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Can someone explain to me the way lawyers use the word "represent"? (I mean, having just taught a course on "representation theory" I'm certainly sympathetic to using representation in a technical way, I just don't grok when and why lawyers use this word.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:18 PM
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249: Huh. Something like "make a statement for the purpose of causing a listener to believe in its truth." "Vouch for" would be a synonym.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:20 PM
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That's not a good reason to believe they're unread.

Says who? I think it's a good reason. Grandma's got a good memory.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:24 PM
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247 -- nah, you could most likely bring Amazon itself in pretty easily under an unfair competition law or about 10 other theories. If the resellers are big enough, though, they would be the juiciest target.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:25 PM
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Not against Amazon, probably, they do require sellers to agree to abide by their guidelines.

This just means that Amazon could turn around and sue the sellers, not that consumers couldn't sue Amazon.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:27 PM
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Not against Amazon, probably, they do require sellers to agree to abide by their guidelines.

This just means that Amazon could turn around and sue the sellers, not that consumers couldn't sue Amazon.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:27 PM
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Not against Amazon, probably, they do require sellers to agree to abide by their guidelines.

This just means that Amazon could turn around and sue the sellers, not that consumers couldn't sue Amazon.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:27 PM
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250: More specifically it's only used about statements of some sort of "objective facts" right? Like I can't "represent" that Boont tastes better than PBR, even if I'm causing you to believe in its truth.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:27 PM
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Right now the sidebar is telling me that Urple's Helpful Help should definitely be the name of something.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:29 PM
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My feeling, from my days as a juror, was just that "represent" is a magic word that forces lawyers to tell the honest truth after they say it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:29 PM
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251: Has she been watching them since they left the store? Realistically, no -- she could say that she didn't read them, but not that they're unread (and if you change the hypo to say that she does have accurate knowledge of where they've been and that no one has had access to them since they left the store, then she could represent them as new if we're applying the 'actually unused' standard.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:29 PM
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Like "double pinky swearing" or whatever.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:30 PM
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257: Maybe an x-treme recipe blog.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:31 PM
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Although it does not include the words when talking about books, "like new" for some other Amazon items include, "Suitable for presenting as a gift."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:31 PM
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Black's law dictionary:

representation, n. 1. A presentation of fact--either by words or by conduct--made to induce someone to act, esp. to enter into a contract; esp., the manifestation to another that a fact, including a state of mind, exists.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:32 PM
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258: Oh, you were listening to lawyers saying "I represent to you that the evidence you've heard establishes that..."? They were just being bombastic. Any technical usage is in the fraud kind of area we're talking about: you make a representation as to the facts of something relevant to a transaction, and if it's a misrepresentation and someone relies on it to their detriment, they've been defrauded.

But you're right, you wouldn't "represent" a matter of opinion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:32 PM
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My memory is hazy, but I seem to remember the word coming up when people (like a witness) got confused about some fact like what the pictures they were being shown were meant to be pictures of. Anyway, I think I understand now, thanks.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:35 PM
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"make a statement for the purpose of causing a listener to believe in its truth."

This is the main reason people make statements to begin with. In fact, you could say that if you weren't trying to get someone to believe the truth of something, you would be using something that has the grammatical form of a statement for a different pragmatic purpose.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:37 PM
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Can someone explain to me the way lawyers use the word "represent"? (I mean, having just taught a course on "representation theory"

Definition. A class action is a map C x X -> X, where C is a class and X a set, which satisfies the following...


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:45 PM
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But you're right, you wouldn't "represent" a matter of opinion.

Ack, don't get me started about the philosophical incoherence of the fact/opinion distinction.

Its an unholy confusion between the distinction between value statements and empirical statements, the distinction between states of the world and beliefs about the world and the distinction between justified and unjustified belief.

ok, you got me started.

They teach this "fact/opinion" distinction in high school like it makes sense and is really important for getting around in the world, but it makes no sense at all. People act as if all moral statements are statements of opinion, and all scientific statements are statements of fact. But "torturing babies for fun is wrong" is clearly a true statement, and "the universe has a flat topology on a global scale is a hypothesis that requires a lot more evidence.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:48 PM
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distinction between value statements and empirical statements

This one looks like the distinction I want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:50 PM
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266: so only prose expressions qualify as "statements"?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:50 PM
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the philosophical incoherence of the fact/opinion distinction.

Well, that's what you think....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:53 PM
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270: Things like statements in fiction ("Hamlet is the prince of Denmark") and metaphors ("I'm getting harder than Chinese algebra") are areas of intense philosophical study precisely because they seem to be statements, but don't work like them at all.

I'm not sure where poetry fits in here, other than being a genre that generally includes all kinds of things that look like assertions but aren't.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 4:55 PM
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Yeah, expressions in fiction and poetry seem designed to do something but is isn't clear that fits.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 5:01 PM
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267: Clever!

Perhaps even better, "A class action of G is a class X together with a map G x X -> X satisfying [the usual conditions]. If X is small (that is, if it's a set and not just a class) then we call this an action. If X is a proper class, then we call this a proper class action."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 5:02 PM
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A conversation overheard on the bus:

A: "Hey man, are you a lawyer?"
B: "No, I work in child care."
A: "Oh, I'm surprised. I see you all the time and I always thought 'I don't even know that guy but I can tell he's a lawyer'."
B: "Well, it's an understandable mistake; I have a lot of class."

B did not appear to be mocking A. (Nor vice versa, for that matter.) I suppose it's possible both were mocking me.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 5:15 PM
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You probably look too classy for the bus.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 5:50 PM
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||

Looks like I'll be out of a job in a relatively short period of time.

Turn your eyes inside and dig the vacuum. Tomorrow: Drag.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 6:26 PM
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277: Boo.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 6:29 PM
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277: Sorry to hear that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 6:47 PM
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274: Cleverer! I didn't realize there was actually something in mathematics called a class.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 6:52 PM
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278, 279: Well, it will probably be all for the best in the long run.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 6:56 PM
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264: if it's a misrepresentation and someone relies on it to their detriment, they've been defrauded.

If there's a viable lawsuit in the making, it seems to me that this would be the key to it. Where's the detriment?

Also, Halford, Amazon's stated terms for "New" books diverge from those of the traditional book trade: it does not demand that the New book be previously unowned by a non-commercial entity. It's not a matter of provenance. The fact that I normally list something that's still in shrinkwrap as "Used-Like New" is a reflection of my adherence to traditional terms; but Amazon does not use those terms.

Also, the recourse on someone having kept their eyes on the book since whenever is for the birds. There's a failure of imagination here regarding book sourcing. Other examples besides those I mentioned in 232: a smallish bricks and mortar independent bookseller (of new books) goes out of business, and liquidates its inventory. It has boxes of books both from its shelves and in the back room. They're previously unowned.

Or: an institution that keeps a library for its staff -- say, a community mental health center or a law firm -- shuts down. Its library has boxes of books that it had recently acquired but hadn't yet been distributed; each in fact still has its acquisition slip/invoice in it. There may be multiple copies, if it's the new edition of some relied-upon title. They just call a used book dealer to give them a bid for the lot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:02 PM
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Other examples besides those I mentioned in 232: a smallish bricks and mortar independent bookseller (of new books) goes out of business, and liquidates its inventory. It has boxes of books both from its shelves and in the back room. They're previously unowned.

Sure, I don't think anyone would argue that books that have never been owned by a noncommercial entity aren't new.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:14 PM
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Not to derail this headache-inducing increasinbly incomprehensible lawyerly discussion about the theoretical condition of books, but this:

Trouble is, if I see "Used - Like New", I don't actually believe its Like New. "Like New" is something used car dears write in soap on the windshield of an '08 Ford Focus with 12,000 miles on it. When I see "Like New" applied to books, I assume its the book equivalent of that.

isn't true IME. I've bought a decent number of used books online and always found that the sellers are quite scrupulous in their descriptions. I'm sure parsimon could tell us about plenty of exceptions, through malice or incompetence, but as a consumer (who cares about condition and not provenance), I find the system works just fine.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:24 PM
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Anyway, where are the damn Brits to tell me whether Arrow Books are decently printed?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:24 PM
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And "unread", as distinct from "apparently unread", isn't about the condition of the book, but its history. Even if you assume that "brand new" says nothing about provenance, as it traditionally would in the book trade, you can't honestly describe a book as "unread" unless you know its history.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:25 PM
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285: 154 does, if not in great detail.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:26 PM
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283: Yeah, I did fumble my double negatives there, didn't I?

I find Halford's glee (at, say, 252) completely dumbfounding, and can't help but cast a bemused glance in ... various directions.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:30 PM
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287: Oh, thanks! I missed that.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 7:33 PM
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284: I've bought a decent number of used books online and always found that the sellers are quite scrupulous in their descriptions.

How nice. The booksellers I know are indeed scrupulous. It's unfortunate that book buyers, particularly on Amazon, tend to be paranoid, and even hostile. It's weird.

But that's why Amazon itself, and a number of booksellers, tend to fall all over themselves exclaiming that there's a hunert percent guarantee!!!! Really, don't freak out!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:04 PM
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It's unfortunate that book buyers, particularly on Amazon, tend to be paranoid, and even hostile.

Reading makes me afraid and angry, so that makes sense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:11 PM
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Books contain knowledge, knowledge is power, power equals force over time, time is a river, rivers are wet, wet feet make for fungus toes, and athlete's foot really irks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:16 PM
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283: I would, if they were in poor condition.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:16 PM
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always found that the sellers are quite scrupulous in their descriptions

I've bought at least 3 "like new" books which were covered in highlighter. This enrages me because (1) I fucking hate reading books covered in highlighter and (2) I fucking hate people who would cover books in highlighter.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:17 PM
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294: If you highlight the rest of the book, it's like nothing was highlighted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:19 PM
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I was stuck on a class action group that involved conjugacy classes. Boo. And even though I wouldn't call a beat to shit copy of a book "new" if it had no previous non-commercial ownerships, I don't care how people treat their non-rare books. Highlight, underline, dogear, wevs: the contents of books are what matter to me most of all.

But highlighted pre-owned coursebooks are distracting, I will give you that.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:25 PM
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294: d00d: If they're bought on Amazon, look at the seller's feedback ratings, as well as the number of ratings. (Someone who has 3 ratings is selling their own books from the kitchen table, and might be making shit up about this "Like New" business.)

I'm sorry you guys are getting screwed like this in teh book buying.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:25 PM
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296: I was once the second person to check out a certain brandest new and "hot" book from the Regenstein library. When I got it, I was *covered* in pink highlighter -- straight through. I told on the person before me. Believe it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:31 PM
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296: s/b class action *joke*


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:37 PM
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And I do hope that Halford's talk of a class action suit against sellers of New books on Amazon is a joke.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:57 PM
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292: Books contain knowledge, knowledge is power

Unless it's already been drained because the book has already been read.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 8:59 PM
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301: There's a refractory period.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:03 PM
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We already know that book cooties can kill a man's or woman's soul, and may indeed constitute fraud.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:06 PM
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oud gets it right in 294. Plenty of sellers with good ratings based on loads of feedback sell substandard books. Maybe they just do it occasionally, and they get away with it for whatever reasons (including customers like me who should probably submit negative feedback but really can't be bothered to). But I've seen the same thing with the highlighting—I've even gotten books that were cocked!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:26 PM
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304.last: In an attempt to keep out the mole?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:28 PM
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I feel a little guilty about admitting to buying used books from Amazon because, among other things, I should be supporting my local booksellers, but Powell's thoroughly dominates the used book market here, and while it's great in many ways, it's not cheap.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:29 PM
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Plenty of sellers with good ratings based on loads of feedback sell substandard books.

Dan Brown's publisher aside, they could just be having a bad day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:36 PM
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I've even gotten books that were cocked!

You can't say that a book is cocked any more: it's flagged and disallowed for troublesome language. So you have to try to use work around language. "Spine lean", say.

306: Many of the used books available on Amazon are from local -- or small, independent -- booksellers.

It's no shame to buy used from Amazon.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 9:58 PM
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Right, I was thinking local to me. And I feel only a little guilty. But seriously, "cocked" is deprecated?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:06 PM
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158 This seems at odds with your internet persona. (Also, hilarious.)

After some reflection, I'm not really coming up with any topics that inspire me to responses that might be described as "passionate" except for climate change and Veronica Mars. It's probably good that they stumbled on the former rather than the latter.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 10:38 PM
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I'm not British, but I own a Heyer published by Arrow Books (which I bought used! on the the internet! but via AbeBooks, not Amazon) and can attest that it is a trade paperback and is decently made. I'm working from memory, since my book is packed away somewhere not easily accessible, but I'd say that the Arrow is about equivalent in quality to the Sourcebook Heyers--maybe a bit less sturdy and less clearly printed, but not dramatically so. Both sets of reprints are aimed at the same market niche--people who want "literary" Heyer--and I think even use some of the same old paintings as cover art.

Also, it is my experience that people who sell used books online are very fuzzy on how to categorize book condition within the Acceptable through Very Good range, and that individual booksellers can be frustratingly inconsistent in their categorizations from one book to the next. The books I buy tend to be undercategorized rather than overcategorized, though, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Oh, and I agree with parsimon re the artificiality of the New/Like New distinction, but I don't know how a buyer would understand that without a fair bit of knowledge about how the book business works.


Posted by: orange pekoe | Link to this comment | 12-22-10 11:52 PM
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I was going to make some snarky comment about this too many lawyers spoiling the thread, but then I got sidetracked by R H-C's venture into linguistic theory.

This is absolutely not true, at least as far as conversations go. In fact, a very large proportion of statements are not intended to convince someone of the truth of the statement, but rather to convey some other meaning. Similarly, even in written language, performative statements aren't primarily intended to convince the reader of their truth, but rather to execute whatever the perforamtive act is - a promise, threat, vow, bet or whatever.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 1:41 AM
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Huh. Don't know what happened to my HTML there. I was trying to quote this from 266:
This is the main reason people make statements to begin with. In fact, you could say that if you weren't trying to get someone to believe the truth of something, you would be using something that has the grammatical form of a statement for a different pragmatic purpose.



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 1:43 AM
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209. Parsimon can correct me as to current practice, but when I was dealing with used books there was a clearly defined set of terms:

* Mint - Bet I could sell this as new
* Very good - Clearly read but undamaged
* Good - Fit for purpose
* Fair - Poor
* Poor - Falling apart

Books in 'mint' condition are/were sold as such, and customers understood what they were getting and expected to pay a decent price for them. Where I worked you paid 50% (rough guideline) of list price for a book in mint condition and marked it up by 30% on that for sale, so such a book listed at £30.00 would be sold second hand at £19.50. (Review copies are explicitly sold as such, and for more.)

Has this changed much?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 2:02 AM
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re: 312

I would imagine, as a philosopher, that R H-C will have heard of Grice [and Austin]. Implicature would be standard stuff in Philosophy of Language 101. Although I suppose not every undergraduate philosophy education would necessarily involve a philosophy of language course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 2:04 AM
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re: 314

Heh, there are similar grading scales with second records, and cameras, which are always misleading. Especially on ebay. With records, for example:

Good - a bit crap


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 2:08 AM
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Perhaps, but then why the comment in 266? Unless I'm misreading it. I would argue that a more accurate statement (heh) would be: "Statements serve multiple pragmatic purposes, of which convincing the listener of the truth of the stated proposition is a common one." R H-C's comment seems to insist on the truth usage as the only real usage, whereas the others are merely statements in form. Which seems totally wrong to me.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 2:17 AM
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This post should have been called "Helpy Help".

That is all.


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 3:09 AM
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314: That sounds pretty much like the Amazon categories, assuming that "Used-Like New" is the same as "Mint".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 5:07 AM
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Parsimon, I'm curious about something. You believe that buyers are buying "new" books based on condition rather than provenance, so you're comfortable selling mint-condition used books as "new". So, when you sell new books that happened to be mildly dinged, do you sell them as "used"?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 6:45 AM
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You can't say that a book is cocked any more:

Until I read this, I assumed J McQ was talking about a book where somebody drew penises on the pictures.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 6:51 AM
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I assumed J McQ was talking about a book where somebody drew penises on the pictures.

That was the generous interpretation.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 6:57 AM
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Or a giant hole in the middle. Yes. That was the other thing that came to mind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:02 AM
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Sticky pages.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:18 AM
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314: Parsimon can correct me as to current practice, but when I was dealing with used books there was a clearly defined set of terms

The only real change from the terms Chris Y. describes is that "Mint" isn't really used in the book trade; that term is reserved for e.g. comics, and for books it's replaced by "As New" or "Fine."

AB Bookman provides the canonical definition of condition terms for the trade.

The term "Fine" shows up there as better than Very Good, but not quite "As New", but that's actually changed a bit as well, since it's going to sound weird to say that something published in, say, 1910 is "As New." Very few professional book dealers would use "As New" [until the advent of Amazon] and prefer Fine. There's also "Near Fine", which generally means 'would be Fine except for this completely minor defect, to whit, a miniscule crinkle at the corner of the dust jacket'. Amazon crunches all these things (As New [deprecated anyway], Fine and Near Fine) into either Used-Like New or Used-Very Good, and a lot of book dealers have trouble shoehorning their stock into these categories.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 5:15 PM
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320: Parsimon, I'm curious about something. You believe that buyers are buying "new" books based on condition rather than provenance, so you're comfortable selling mint-condition used books as "new". So, when you sell new books that happened to be mildly dinged, do you sell them as "used"?

Hm. A couple of things: review the Amazon definition of terms LB pasted at 230. There is no reference there to "New" defined in terms of provenance. According to Amazon's description terms, a book that's crisp, pristine (perhaps even in shrinkwrap) can be New regardless of provenance. Amazon's reference to "brand-new" and "unread" is ambiguous at best, leaving room as it does for the student who bought something from the bookstore two weeks ago, dropped the course and never even opened the book, and is now selling it. That said, we ourselves call something New (in Amazon's sense) very, very rarely.

The second situation just isn't going to arise for us: we don't sell new books (in the traditional sense -- straight from the publisher), so all our books are by definition used (in the technical, traditional sense). If we did, and we received from the publisher books that were dinged, we'd return them to the publisher to be replaced.

So you tell me: if you were a distributor of new books in the traditional sense (straight from the publisher), and you had some mildly dinged copies on your hands, would you describe them as New? Amazon's description of the term says no; yet the traditional description of the term says yes.

Anyway, this is why I said upthread, only partly tongue-in-cheek, that I blame Amazon. They have adopted description terms that don't comply with the terms used by the book trade, and customers increasingly treat their terms as definitive, except when they don't.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 5:54 PM
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I wonder whether anyone's in the process of writing a sociology-of-econ article about this. Reminds me of some of Dona/ld Mac/kenzie's stuff I've read. (About the complicated processes involved in creating standardized categories, etc.) Very interesting.

Has there been much back-and-forth b/w Amazon & used booksellers over this?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 6:29 PM
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327.last: Yes and no. God knows it's discussed ad nauseam on bookselling discussion lists every 3 or 4 months -- which mostly devolves into sellers who've adopted Amazon's definitions entirely yelling at sellers who decline to do so, then the latter yelling back at the 'sell-outs'. It can be entertaining at times. But, you know, sigh.

Amazon themselves aren't open to changing their definitions. There's been some dialogue, but they're monolithic and they prefer to send form letter email replies. They've put additional algorithms in place to catch booksellers who they feel aren't complying with their definitions, and send them warnings. This can be annoying. (Example: an absolutely pristine book that happens to be lacking its dust jacket is, according to traditional terms, Fine (Used-As New), lacking dj. Amazon says no. Okay, whatever.)

From the sociology of econ perspective, what's more interesting is Amazon's (and other bookselling sites') insistence on fixed shipping charges. This also runs deeply contrary to traditional bookselling practice, since a 5 lb. book shipped from the US to Australia is going to cost a hell of a lot more (a lot more: $44.00) to ship than a 2 lb. book to Australia, but Amazon charges the customer (and reimburses the seller) a fixed rate regardless.

It is pretty interesting the way they shape consumer expectations, and do a great deal of hand-holding themselves (guarantee! guarantee!); which results in an atmosphere of suspicion and hairtrigger hostility on the part of quite a few consumers when dealing with small, independent sellers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:02 PM
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They're letting the Australians have books now? Crikey!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:05 PM
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I know. I feel badly for the Australians and New Zealanders, since they have to struggle to get these books (for $44.00 shipping, holy crap!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:19 PM
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This also runs deeply contrary to traditional bookselling

The traditional bookseller uses every part of the buffalo bubble wrap.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-10 7:24 PM
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