Today’s a post office day. I’m shipping two conference proceedings to Japan, which were relatively easy: one can now print International Priority Mail flat-rate envelope postage from the USPS.gov website, including the customs forms. I almost had another shipment… and therein lies a story.
After my father died, I listed a number of his books and CDs up on Amazon Marketplace (those for which I could get $2.50 or more, for otherwise it isn’t worth it). Yesterday, I sold one, a book on word games. The address was something I hadn’t seen before: a guest at a state prison complex. Now for books, one uses media mail, and the only way I’ve found of being able to prepay media mail is to use the multi-order shipping tool at Paypal. I couldn’t get the tool accept the address — it was too long. After some rearranging, I got it down to acceptable length–and then it wouldn’t validate. I tried checking the address as the usps.gov site, but I couldn’t get it to validate either. So I called the prison. After finally speaking to someone in mail services, it turns out that even if I figured out the address, they wouldn’t have accepted the shipment. Guests can only receive books directly from the publisher or from a well-known bookseller, such as Amazon or Barnes and Nobel. So I’ve communicated with the purchaser (not the guest at the facility, but someone buying the book for them), and have refunded the money. But it was certainly a learning experience.