With Musket, Cannon and Sword: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies by Brent Nosworthy. Hardcover book published by Sarpedon 1996, 516 pages with some black and white maps.
I’ve chosen to write about this book as it has reminded me of an early book selling incident from my early book selling days. The details are at times little sketchy, but the message is very clear... at least i hope it is.
When I first started selling books on ebay, I couldn’t believe how great it was that I could sell books to people all over the world. It was an audience/market that had no boundaries, particularly for those wanting to purchase those rarer items that they were unable to find in their own countries. All it took was for me to find stuff that people would want, write a description and then list it. If the item sold and the buyer paid, you then posted the item. Easy.
I’ve written previously about selecting books based upon having a good general knowledge regarding various topics. Also an understanding of what people are passionate about can seriously help in choosing a book to sell on line. So early on in my book selling career I found a single volume of a larger volumed set of books about various aspects of Napoleons campaigns across Europe. I can’t remember what the title was or what the set was called, I do remember that it was a lovely hardcover of not an overly large size. This particular copy was in great condition. Napoleon is someone that I believed, and still believe, people are interested in. I would even go so far as to write that there are some people that are passionate about all things Napoleonic… some of them may even wear funny hats.
So I wrote a detailed description: title, format, publisher, date, number of pages, mentioned illustrations (if it had any), a brief description of the contents, a section on condition and included a scan, in this instance of the title page as there was no dust jacket. I then listed it on ebay and waited for the sale and sell it did, to a guy in New Zealand. He paid and I then posted his book.
What a happy story this is. A week later I get an email. “Where’s the dust jacket?” First thing I do is check my description. I didn’t mention a dust jacket, I certainly didn’t describe the dust jacket and the scan was of the title page and definitely not of a dust jacket. So I emailed back with the most honest answer I knew at the time, “There is no dust jacket and there is no mention of a dust jacket.” A lengthier email returned. Apparently the Napoleonic gentleman at the other end was a collector of this series of Napoleonic books… but only with the dust jackets. So I read through my description again. I had indicated that it was a hardcover. I described the cover and made no mention of a dust jacket in the condition section and included a scan of the title page… and this is where the whole thing falls apart. The title page and the dust jacket were identical (the interwebs confirmed this at the time). I wont go into what happened next and how I tried unsuccessfully… and perhaps clumsily, to placate the New Zealand gentlemen over there across the Tasman. I do think my description was vague in that I didn’t indicate a missing dust jacket. I didn’t mention a dust jacket at all as there was none and the other guy assumed my picture was of the dust jacket. We both assumed something and we were both wrong.
Since this incident I have been very careful to mention in all my descriptions if there is no dust jacket… even if there never was a dust jacket, I write “(no dust jacket)”*. You’ve got to be clear in the on line world of bookselling. I personally write lengthy descriptions regarding condition as I believe this is the way to sell a book. Be honest. If there’s a rip to some pages, or someone has eaten their lunch over page 15, mention it, don’t hide it. What I find interesting is descriptions like “A good copy.” This is a real description that I’ve copied and pasted from ebay and I seriously wonder how these people can manage to survive selling books on line. Maybe I over describe and it does take a lot of time and I have considered shortening my descriptions and saving myself some time… but then I think about Mr New Zealand Napoleon and I figure it’s important to at least try and get it right.
So what has all of this got to do with “With Musket, Cannon and Sword: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies by Brent Nosworthy”, absolutely nothing other than this book is also about Napoleon… and it does have a dust jacket.
*excluding paperbacks… unless the paperback has a dust jacket and then I indicate that this is the case