Paper book shipment problems

Hi all, I’m sad to say this, but I have very big troubles with paper book international shipping from Russia.

What’s happened?

Starting from this January, Russian customs blocks all my shipments with a remark that «according to new rules, books is not an item of personal usage» (WTF?). They returned my 10 foreign shipments, and then they blocked my next shipments I tried to send to find an option which works. But nothing worked, the customs continues to mockingly block my shipments.

Rejection from customs

I have no any possibility to ship paper copies to my book buyers. And this makes me very, very sad.

UPDATE: I’ve been to another country, Belarus (Minsk) on the 17-20 of July with a special mission. I took 10 paper copies for 10 top buyers (the most I could carry), and sent those copies from there. Yes, it’s that bad in Russia — I had to visit another country for this. And I’m still not sure if shipments will arrive this time.

In total, I got ~30 packages blocked by customs. It’s super expensive because I mostly don’t get any profit from each copy. If you bought a paper book for $80, I got from LeanPub only $64, $20-30 is shipment itself, and ~$30 is paper copy production cost. I also don’t count shipment materials here and the time I spend for packaging. So when a shipment is blocked, I’m loosing $20-30 because both customs and postage service refuse to return my money. At least I can get my packages back.

Packages

I also have a dozen of failed packages since last year. I promised to resend failed packages, and I did. I didn’t ask for shipment compensation when it was a postage service failure. In total, I resent about 10 packages for free, and a couple of them for the extra payment equal to the shipment cost.

Shipment bills

Another problem I met is stuck packages. These 24 lost shipments are all from November and December 2020, and theirs travelling time is about 60 days already. I have no idea where these books are, the parcel trackers say «left Russia» or «came to <some country’s> customs». And no movement since then. This most likely means that those packages lost completely, and I don’t even expect to get them back. As you might have guessed, it’s again very expensive to me.

If you want to get more background of my expenses, I composed a Twitter thread with approximate calculations related to the book’s production and shipment:

If not the unexpected situation with Russian customs in 2021, I could consider this as an advertisement campaign, and I could afford those expenses. For now, I don’t know what to do. Using commercial logistics like DHL for international shipment is not an option. I checked this: DHL asks $110 for their services (shipment of my book from Novosibirsk to Berlin, Germany). Pony Express is less expensive, $50, but it’s still a lot.

For now I’m starting thinking that selling paper copies was a bad idea initially. The option on LeanPub also includes a bunch of educational videos and some additional materials, and I should have had it to be of a real price around $100-120, because the paper copy is a «collector edition». No one has any technical book of such a great printing quality. But nobody would like to buy it with this price.

Fortunately, about 60 books have found their owners, and hopefully 10-20 stuck packages will also arrive after some time.

What’s next?

I’ll keep international packages for better times. I’ll also take some actions to negotiate our further steps with all who bought the paper version and didn’t get it due to all the problems. I’ll propose them several options so they could decide how I can fix this. There are such options:

  • compensate the difference between ‘paper copy option’ and ‘digital copy option’ from LeanPub
  • add a person to the list of supporters on the book’s site
  • give the access to my new book I’m working on, Pragmatic Type Level Design
  • give the access to all the materials for the FDaA Second Edition (Manning) when it comes to writing it
  • something else

I’m really sorry for this.

Alexander

P.S. I hate to say this, but it’s another round of Russia’s self-isolation and degradation, and one more case of pro-government services which are completely unprofessional and barely functioning. I as a Software Developer feel pain every time I deal with them. Everything is so broken and so idiotic here, in Russia. High skilled professionals like me could fix this, but we’re not needed in our country. And you’ve probably heard that Russia gets worse these years. Political kills, repressions, decreasing quality of life — that’s all true. Russia is a very unpleasant place today.

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