Globalization – An Illustration

A new semester means another opportunity to rant about textbook prices – but we’ve been over this before, so I won’t waster our readership’s time. Instead, a tale of global business, intrigue, and, hopefully, happiness.

Some background. That great engine of entrepeneurial opportunism, E-Bay, also operates as another company called specializes in selling used textbooks to poor, desperate students like me at prices that  typically undercut our local "college bookstore" by about 30%. Hey, every dollar counts.

I found out about from a buddy earlier this year; I ordered a book and the seller turned out to be his ex-girlfriend who had just taken the class. The price was right, the service impeccable, she sold the book for more than our "local bookstore" was willing to pay for it, and I saved about $25. As Steven Covey would say, it was a win-win.

Naturally I upped the ante for this semester. I decided to order as many books as I could; in the end, the grand total was 3 books. Patting myself on the back for being thrifty and ingenious, I moved on the next items of the preschool checklist.

School started today and only one of the books is on my bookshelf. It came from Jacksonville, FL. This morning, my mailman dropped off a card telling me that an items is ready to be picked up at the post office, and, by the way, the postage due is $7.00. That order has come from Banning, CA. Still no sign of the third book, although I do have some email correspondence with the "vendor".

The missing book is "Understanding Financial Statement", published in 2009, in the USA.  I sent an email to the "vendor" on August 24, and got this reply:

Hello Agricola,

Hope you must be doing good. As per our order book, the order for the book ‘ Understanding Financial Statements’ was placed by you on August 18,2009. I am glad to tell you that the book was shipped on August 21,2009 using the "DHL" shipment service. You may track the book’s status by putting in the tracking number ‘1329118663’ in the required field of the link ‘‘.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Hope to serve you in a more efficient manner in the future.

Thank You,
(name hidden)


Alarm bells immediately rang. First, broken English. Second, DHL. Aren’t they that Dutch company that ships everything via Air in all of the countries of the world except the US? WTF?

So here is the tracking info:

Tracking history…   Help 
Date and time Status Location Service Area
8/25/2009      1:23 am Transit through DHL facility   Cincinnati Hub, OH
8/24/2009    10:37 pm Depart Facility   East Midlands, United Kingdom
                    10:36 pm In transit.   East Midlands, United Kingdom
                      5:33 am Scheduled to move   East Midlands, United Kingdom
8/23/2009      5:46 pm Depart Facility   London-heathrow, United Kingdom
                      9:05 am Processed at DHL Location.   London-heathrow, United Kingdom
                      8:45 am Transit through DHL facility   London-heathrow, United Kingdom
                    12:44 am Depart Facility   Delhi (new Delhi), India
8/22/2009    11:12 pm Processed at DHL Location.   Delhi (new Delhi), India
                      1:08 pm Transit through DHL facility   Delhi (new Delhi), India
                      3:23 am Depart Facility   Mumbai (bombay), India
                      3:18 am Processed at DHL Location.   Mumbai (bombay), India
                      1:48 am Departing origin.   Mumbai (bombay), India
8/21/2009    11:38 pm Shipment picked up   Mumbai (bombay), India


Yes, you read the report correctly. My $65 textbook (used) is coming to American from Bombay, India. Somehow, this entrepeneur will sell a book, published in the US in 2009, ship it back to the US, paying the air freight charges, and make a profit. Is this a great world or what?

I just hope it is written in English…


2 Replies to “Globalization – An Illustration”

  1. This is in some ways a testament to why global markets make our standard of living better. Imagine how you’d live if you were forced buy only American?

    And on a different note, have you read any Niall Ferguson? His latest book on the history of money might be a great side read.

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