Book Search

January 8, 2007

How far will you go to find a book? Sometimes I can’t find a book at the library, the local bookseller, or on any of the standard book web sites. When looking for a copy of Halldor Laxness’ Salka Valka in hardcover, my only luck was at a used book site, and the cost was just too much. On a whim I tried amazon.com in Japan. (http://www.amazon.co.jp) There is a tab for English versions, and there it was- a new copy in English at the published price. I took the risk, thinking that maybe it was a copy that had simply waited for me on a shelf for years and I had just gotten lucky. I placed the order near the end of November. The estimated delivery was January 9. I was hopeful, but not confident. Well, the email arrived:

English: We wanted to let you know that there has been a delay with some
of the item(s) in your order indicated above. We apologize for any
inconvenience caused by this delay.

When I check order status, the new estimated delivery is:
Order Date: 2006/11/27

Items not yet shipped:
Delivery estimate: 2007/2/21 – 2007/3/14
• 1 of: Salka Valka
Sold by: Amazon.co.jp

My hopes are now at about 5%, and I am starting to wish I hadn’t sent my credit card number quite so far. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before the order just gets cancelled.

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3 Responses to “Book Search”

  1. w Says:

    I got my copy of Salka Valka today… except it’s in Icelandic! I now know a few Icelandic words: hoofdstuk = chapter; boek = book. Er… that’s it. Now how about you post what each chapter’s about here, and then I’ll try to see if I can decipher it in the Icelandic? 🙂

  2. Brad Says:

    🙂 As soon as amazon in japan finds a copy for me, I’ll let you know. Actually, I wish I was fluent in another language so that I could read a book in the original language. I suspect that a book in translation always loses something. I have no way to know for sure.

  3. w Says:

    Oh, I’ve been wishing that since I picked up Borges. There’s a wonderful dialogue among translators about what is lost—and gained—in the process. For me, since I can’t read the original and since I want to be part of the process somehow, I’ll pick up a few copies of different translations of a work (Don Quixote, for example) and read them against one another to try to gauge the reasons behind the translators’ choices. Pretty interesting results. Another example: I loved Pedro Páramo in the Lysander Kemp translation but couldn’t get into it in the Margaret Sayers Peden translation—while a well-respected translator abhors the former and extols the latter. Very odd.


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