Absence of the Hero


"The law is wrong; I am right"
Right! I got an alert from them and just ordered a copy.
Funny, but the price is exactly the same as on Amazon ($11.87), except Amazon has'nt got it yet so it's their pre-order price.
The shipping price to Europe from City Lights was $12, and that's 49 cents cheaper than Amazon.
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$8 for shipping "Based on standard delivery in the Western US." Based on the "quality" of the last shipment I got from them, it's not only cheaper for me to buy it from a local bookstore, it's more likely it will be in better shape.
Yeah, the 8 bucks for shipping is nuts. Never ordered directly from City Lights so what's with the mishaps with shipment? Please don't tell me they send 'em out in cheapo bubble mailers.


$8 for shipping "Based on standard delivery in the Western US." Based on the "quality" of the last shipment I got from them, it's not only cheaper for me to buy it from a local bookstore, it's more likely it will be in better shape.
Here's a hearty 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) of this motion before the floor. What gives? I mean, many of us buy books from small presses the world over...but $8 shipping, domestic? They priced THEMSELVES out of it...by a buck or so, even with the discount! Like PS, I'll wait for a 'mint' copy on the shelf at one of my local stores.


Sad Flower in the Sand
I can tell you that retail (at least, Barnes and Noble) usually gets new City Lights books a couple weeks later than the actual release date... something to keep in mind if you want a brick and mortar copy...
I never thought I'd say this, but I'd rather B&N or B***ers get my $ from an off the rack sale than to pay pirate $ for lame shipping. A limp shoe box with a half-dead air pillow in it the size of a deck of cards didn't exactly endear them to me. You know, Revolutionary or not.

And, BTW, having signed up for a e-mail for when this was to be available, this is now the second time that I have not received one - but as usual, Buknet is quick on the draw.
To CL's credit, when I complained last time about the condition my book arrived in, they immediately sent me a new one.

But, yeah, 8 dollars is a bit much for shipping. I'll just wait until I can pick it up locally since I've already got my paws on an ARC, anyway.
I might add that the checkout indicated "Based on standard delivery in the Western US." To me, that means shipping to the East coast would be even more. If they meant "standard pickup from the west coast" then excuse me. In that case, it's ironic that a venerable literary venture would be so poor in their communication.

For customers in Europe (and especially Germany):

it will also be available at your friendly neighborhood bukowski-shop as soon as it's out. (I have already ordered.)

Price isn't sure yet, but will be fair.
(I assume, it may cost 12.80 EUR just as 'Portions'. amazon.co.uk: 11.99 £ (approx 13.47 EUR), amazon.de: 12.99 EUR. - Now compare!)
Shipping in Germany is free. Shipping inside Europe is 3,- EUR.

Hello friends:

So yes, the book is available at City Lights (just got the shipment a couple of days ago). I'm pretty excited about it and feel like it equals the first one. I'm enjoying the hell out of it, at any rate. David Calonne did a real bang up job!

So about the shipping price, here's the deal. Understand that we're not trying to bilk anyone and are doing things as cheaply as possible. This discount on the book itself is designed to mitigate the pain of the postage. The thing is, we'll never be able to compete with Amazon shipping. Never. Amazon is one of the biggest corporations in America, City Lights is an independent press that has never accepted funding from outside sources. Amazon can afford to take a loss on shipping; City Lights can't. Amazon can take a loss on books; we can't. Amazon owns its own warehouses; we have to pay a great deal of money to rent space in a warehouse. It's really an issue of economy of scale. And to be honest, Amazon is basically trying to run real bookstores out of business and is largely succeeding. I'm sure the heavy discounts will dry up once they achieve the goal.

Anyway, there's a lot of factors involved. We could probably get cheaper warehousing, but we do it with warehouses that pay their employees a living wage. (Buk worked in a book warehouse and it doesn't sound like he got one.) We could print books in India or China, which is a hell of a lot cheaper, but they're not environmentally friendly and pay slave wages. So we print them in Michigan, where most of the best large-scale printing is done in America and it costs more.

The main thing is to consider the role of an independent press versus a huge corporation. Buk could have cut and run from Black Sparrow for one of the NY corporate presses; he had plenty of offers and would have made way more money than if he stayed with Black Sparrow. But he didn't, largely out of loyalty to John Martin, but also, one suspects, because he wasn't a corporate type of guy. Ginsberg could have republished Howl with Viking Press in 1958, but he stuck with City Lights out of loyalty and non-corporateness until 1980 or so, when he went to Harper"”we couldn't have published his collected anyway because it's too big a book for us to handle, and he made sure that City Lights retained the rights to publish any of the older books we published, even if we no longer control the rights to Ginsberg's poems. If he hadn't stayed with us, we might not be here.

I understand the difficulties of paying for things; I'm a poor man myself. And I'm not even here to urge you to buy it from City Lights; if there's an independent bookstore anywhere in your area, you should go there instead of Amazon. Anything to keep the trade alive is better than buying off Amazon and really, who wants to end up reading Buk on a Kindle; he was the kind of dude who liked the smell of books, the type itself. (It was the non-corporate alternative publications that made Buk's rep to begin with.) But if Amazon has its way, books may very well disappear for e-texts, because there's so little overhead compared to books and corporate America is about squeezing the most cash out of consumers for the least expense.

Anyway, that's my song and dance on shipping. Even if you buy it from Amazon, you're still doing us good and your purchase is much appreciated. It warms my heart to see all the enthusiasm here; we live in a country where only half the population even reads a book anymore, and most of that stuff is self-help nonsense, Harry Potter, and Tom Clancy-type stuff. The passion for Bukowski among you is by far the exception, not the rule, in today's literary culture, and I love it.

As ever,

Garrett Caples
City Lights Books
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Garrett, thanks for the input. My main concern isn't the shipping cost (though I believe steep) but it's the nature of the packaging. I'd be happy to pay the cost for shipping but don't want to receive a book that looks like it's been tossed about by caged gorillas.


Founding member
Garrett, I don't know if it's so much the cost of the shipping as much as it is the shipping material. A lot of people's hardcovers of Portions arrived from CL in sad shape due to flimsy packaging. Your audience here, and I assume most of the early buyers, are very likely to be collectors as well, and a banged up book is not cool with them. It gives the impression that the publisher doesn't give a shit about their product.

Look at it this way; there are people (these forum types) who know about the books a year before they are published, and wait and discuss and wait and preorder and wait and then at the end of that waiting and build-up, if they receive a bent up book in a five cent manila envelope - that's just bad news, man. And I think that's why you see people in this thread giving CL a hard time.

I loved your statement.
And your urge to make some things clear.


(ps: still, I would love people in Europe to buy from my webshop.)
Thanks for the replies, all.

Just to let you know, City Lights is very aware of the problems shipping last time and there should be no problems this time around. We hardly ever print any hardcover books, so we weren't fully prepared in terms of packaging, for which I apologize.

Did anyone have any trouble last time with a paperback of Portions, or were the problems strictly hardcover?

Garrett, thanks again for taking the time to follow-up on our posts. Went ahead and just now placed an order for Absence from the CL site. "everybody gota buy someday"
Just received my copy. Very nicely packaged, no bending, no lovemaking on it from caged gorillas. Time to avoid doing any work and read this.


more crickets than friends
WOW! I received an email from Amazon today telling me, my estimated shipment is between June 3rd and August 9th! So I guess I'm going with most of you through City Lights, because no way I can wait two, possibly 4 months! Anyone else who ordered through Amazon get the email?


It is what it is
:) I got the same email from Amazon, cancelled the order and ordered directly as well.

No way I'm waiting that long!


more crickets than friends
Yeh, I was in a training class in Monterey Park, Ca today where all I wanted was something beyond asian food to eat(which incidentally is hard to find in monterey park) when I got the email and I thought, what the hell, are you serious!!!!! And so then I settled on Mc Donalds, because no matter where you are, as long as you drive long enough, you're bound to run into a mickey D's, right?!


more crickets than friends
Or as Cypress Hill once said, and well, that kinda works for me on this Tuesday night.


I think that I think too much
Founding member
I ordered from Amazon (shame) too. Haven't recieved any e-mails yet , but now I'm nervous...


more crickets than friends
Yeah, they allowed me to cancel yesterday, no questions asked, but still disappointed.


"The law is wrong; I am right"
I received my copy from City Lights today. It came in a bubble wrap envelope. A nice copy without any flaws. I'm looking forward to start reading it tonight.
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I think that I think too much
Founding member
Got an e-mail today. The estimated delivery date is april 14 to 16. Wierd, all the varied postponment. I guess that I can wait an extra week, but now I wish that I had ordered it from CL's. Guess thats what I get for trying to go mainstream. Long live the revolution.:cool: