I was delighted to find the Liberty Fund's new edition of John Millar's The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks in my mailbox this afternoon. Reading the book in graduate school sent me down the dark and twisted path to my own wee monograph (which, in dissertation form, was not so wee). When I relocated to upstate NY in 1999, I found myself in need of my own copy--or, at least, of my own twentieth-century facsimile reprint. Thus ensued a comedy of errors, paraphrased below:
1. I find a secondhand copy online. Hooray!
2. I attempt to purchase it.
3. A clerk observes that the book is out of print. I, biting my tongue (or, as this was an e-mail conversation, my fingers), gently point out that a) I know that, which is why b) I'm buying this book from their catalogue, as they are c) a secondhand bookstore.
4. The clerk acknowledges the justice of my position, and asks me to send the invoice number for my library purchase.
5. I, sighing somewhat loudly, point out that a campus mailing address does not equal buying books for the campus library.
6. The clerk's manager agrees with me that, yes, that should have been obvious.
7. Clear sailing ahead, right?
8. Er, no. Now they no longer have the book in stock. I sigh again, louder than before.
9. The manager finds another copy for me in a bookstore across the street.
10. Success! We must be all done now...
11. Several months later, yet another clerk e-mails me to inquire if I'd like a copy of The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks.
12. After staring at the screen in some bafflement, I point out that I have a copy--which should hardly come as a surprise, seeing as how his store had sold it to me.
13. Yet another e-mail from the manager, informing me that the clerk had been told to clean up his backorder files ASAP.