Order Early from Amazon: A Cautionary Tale

Amazon's initial "in stock" statement.

Amazon’s initial “in stock” statement.

A two day book delivery promise from Amazon can turn into 2 1/2 weeks. Or longer.

I try to keep enough copies of my photography book in stock to have at my photography workshops for people who didn’t order the book before the workshop. I also keep books on hand for people who discover my book and want to order an autographed copy for themselves or to give away as a gift. At least that’s the plan. With three of my workshops coming up I decided to order a few more copies this morning.

I checked Amazon’s site and they have 6 copies in stock, or at least that is what the site says, with the possibility of overnight delivery (screen capture above).  I ordered 5 books and Amazon gave me several delivery options, including paying for overnight delivery. I opted for the free two day “Prime” delivery.  I paid with a credit card and checked out.

Amazon delivery estimate after ordering.

Amazon delivery estimate after ordering.

It was not until the ordering process was done that they showed me my new delivery date estimate, August 13-20. What on earth happened to the two day delivery that comes with the Prime membership I paid for? How did 2 days delivery become 19-26 days?

Fortunately, I have enough books for my August 15-17 workshop. That is one reason I have started ordering well in advance for my fall workshops. This isn’t the first time this happened. This whole thing with two days delivery time becoming three weeks was a problem when I was ordering extra books for my spring photography workshops. I now order extra copies of my book two months ahead of my workshops. I remember when two days delivery time with Amazon really was two days.

Amazon, revised in stock estimate after my order.

Amazon, revised in stock estimate after my order.

After getting my delivery date surprise, I went back to my book’s Amazon page. Now they have one book “In stock on July 28”. Hmmm. And I won’t get my books until mid August or later. I don’t get it.

I could cancel my order at Amazon and go elsewhere, but the last time I did that (for my spring workshops) the delivery date from the other book dealers was much later than the estimated delivery date, not too mention I had to pay a “per book” delivery fee so the total cost per book was higher than at Amazon. Sigh.

There is a moral to the story. If Amazon offers you two day delivery at check out, that does not always mean you will get the book in two days. Order early.