One Friday afternoon when the book truck of injured books from Circulation was delivered to the conservation lab, a book was brought to my attention.  Tim from Circ/Stacks told me that our copy of 1000 Solved Problems in Modern Physics published by Springer in 2010 had four duplicate leaves and 8 missing leaves.  Where there was a duplicate leaf like 409-410, the leaves on either side were missing, in this case 407-408 and 411-412.

Page on the left is 406. Pages on the right are 409, 409, 413, and 413.

We have encountered this before.  Normally, missing pages are requested via Interlibrary Loan.  A technician would scan them, clean them up, and print them front-to-back on permanent/durable paper.  These would be trimmed and tipped-in to the volume.  Did I mention it was late on a Friday afternoon?  Well, I needed something interesting to hold my attention.  I went to the Springer website and found their “contact” page.  I chose “Books and software: individual customers,” and entered my request for replacement pages.  I hit the submit button and received the pleasant response that my message had been received and was being processed.  I then waited excitedly for a response.  What would they say?  What would they do?  Would they even bother responding?

I did manage to refrain from mentioning that their binding was terrible; the text block is already splitting and the front cover is separating from the text block.  No point in making too many complaints at once.  Once I had someone on the hook I could mention it then.

Cover pulling away from text block and text block splitting.

Four weeks passed without a peep, even after a quick follow up email asking if someone would contact me.  I would have tried calling but they do not provide any phone numbers, just the email form.  One of our Acquisitions staff provided me with a contact who handles electronic databases.  I sent off an email and he quickly responded, connecting me with someone who deals with replacement copies.  In another couple of days, this individual contacted me to inform me that they could not send the missing pages but if I provided our invoice number the warehouse would send me a replacement copy.  I did decline this offer since it would not streamline our process.

Another two weeks went by (a total of eight weeks since the original message was sent), when customer service contacted me and said I needed to provide a phone number so a UPS pick-up could be arranged.  And then, “Once we receive the return, we will process a replacement copy  on our system.   If the book is available, you will receive it within 7-10 days; however, if the book is on hold due to corrections that need to be made to it; then your request will remain on backorder until it is ready to ship to you.”  They apparently can’t tell me if it’s available until they receive the defective copy–not sure how that database works.  Needless to say, even more hoops to jump through with no guarantee that we get a replacement copy in any timely manner, I declined but did tell them that their bindings are terrible and already splitting.  No response.