Searching the Web for books

I have seven favourite books. Six of these were written in English. Five of these I read first in a translation. Four of these I didn’t have in the original and three of these I hadn’t read in the original before getting online two years ago.

Thus, once on the Net, I rebought the favourite I had, read, but lost (don’t ask) and bought two of the remaining three. I couldn’t get the last one, Jack Schaefer’s Monte Walsh, though. The Amazon page kept showing the message “Available from these sellers” instead of “In stock”, and I know from experience that the former means “Not available in the country you live in”.

Last October I wrote an Amazon customer review for Colin Mark’s Gaelic-English dictionary. Later on I sometimes found the book and the review, sometimes the book – with five reviews from other people instead of mine. This puzzled me, but gradually other things pushed the unsolved riddle out of my mind. What has this to do with Monte? Wait a bit…

I must mention Mike Perham’s book again. When I was writing about it here, I naturally wanted to insert a link to the book on the Amazon site. Trouble was, I couldn’t find it. This was hard to accept, as it had already arrived and I couldn’t believe they’d had deleted its page. In the end I realized what was happening: I had ordered (and obtained) it from, and now was searching it at It seemed strange that they wouldn’t even link you from .com to, but there you are. What has this to do with either of the previous?

In fact, a good deal. Because a few days after looking for the Perham link it striked me: if does and .com doesn’t have an English book, isn’t it equally possible that doesn’t and .com does have an American book? I had a look – and there it was. Naturally I immediately ordered it. Funnily enough my account worked there – if a buyer’s account automatically transfers to .com, why doesn’t a book? Anyway, this Monday it arrived*. In the meantime my subconscious solved the review puzzle: of course, I was sometimes looking for it (and finding it) on the site and sometimes (in vain) on the .com site.

So much for having once had scored 125 points in a Canadian air force IQ test…

* Another symbolic coincidence in my life: I obtained the original version of the last of my favourites on Rob’s birthday – Rob being one of the four best friends of my whole life – and the one I met as the last…



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