Is this bookstore existent? Or is this a scam?
March 23, 2007 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Am I being scammed? BookFilter...

So I bought an international edition of a book through Abebooks, paid with my card, thought nothing of it. It's been a day, so I haven't received anything, obviously.

For some reason I decided to google the seller's address, because I'm in the same city (NYC) and thought briefly about going to pick it up. When I did, however, I got multiple results with multiple different companies with the same address.

Not only that, but the other companies seem to be still active, with working websites at least. And then on top of that, one of those other companies has an unsatisfactory record in the BBB, as well as negative reports from consumers online.

Oh, and I checked the bookstore on Abebooks, and they have 3000 other books for sale, all of them the international edition.

So what should I do? Is this a scam, or just multiple offices being run out of the same building and suite? Should I be worried at all?
posted by suedehead to Law & Government (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Wait and see if the book arrives. If it arrives, there is nothing to worry about.
posted by fire&wings at 7:34 AM on March 23, 2007

This sounds like just another of those wacky McSweeney's things, like 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Book store, pirate store, global logistics, eyeglass reseller... whatever.

Seriously, just wait for the book. It may sound a little low-rent (literally), but it's certainly not a crime to run multiple businesses out of the same space.
posted by eschatfische at 7:43 AM on March 23, 2007

Did you read this? It appears that AbeBooks is a service that aggregates the listings from numerous independent booksellers. Perhaps the seller is using something like a UPS Store or Postal Express "private mailbox". Note also that the site indicates that Abe is located in Victoria, Canada.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:46 AM on March 23, 2007

It's not a flat out scam, but AbeBooks isn't a single bookstore, but more of a place where a lot of individual sellers can sell. (Like eBay, sans auction.) Also they have a reputation for awful customer service. So getting your book or not depends on the individual seller (who is hopefully honest) and they're not honest it may take ages or be impossible to get your book or your money.
posted by anaelith at 7:50 AM on March 23, 2007

Lots of small businesses use 'virtual office' services that give them a nice mailing address and phone answering service, without actually renting space at that building. The upshot is that it looks like lots of companies are living at that address.
posted by chrismear at 8:07 AM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!
I do know that Abebooks themselves don't sell the books but instead forward them on to others. Other transactions through them have worked pretty smoothly, so I was just wondering about this certain bookstore.
posted by suedehead at 8:25 AM on March 23, 2007

Another non-shady explanation is that this address is some sort of third party or intermediary shipping/order-fulfillment provider. They could be providing warehousing/distribution for any number of clients, but only serve as a direct contact for a few. This would seem to dovetail okay with an international courier service. Obviously there's no guarantee, but absent any specific complaints against this bookseller I think you are okay to assume it is legit.
posted by nanojath at 8:41 AM on March 23, 2007

It's a pity Abes doesn't seem to offer a feedback option on its sellers, though.
posted by nanojath at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2007

At this point, many (most?) booksellers specializing in rare books/special editions don't have brick-and-mortar bookstores. You probably found the address of the business office.
posted by desuetude at 8:45 AM on March 23, 2007

155 West 29th street is probably a medium-large office building with many many businesses in it.

Why are you freaked out by the multiple search results for that address? How many office buildings in NYC only have a single tenant?
posted by bshort at 9:21 AM on March 23, 2007

It's a pity Abes doesn't seem to offer a feedback option on its sellers, though.

I don't know if this is still true, but Abebooks used to re-list through amazon (at least for some of their titles), so maybe if you're interested in having the ability to use feedback, you might want to try to find the same listing through amazon (as much as I hate encouraging people to use the big A).

Alibris (at least used to) re-lists through the Barnes and Noble website.
posted by drezdn at 9:23 AM on March 23, 2007

Look. You can even see it in the satellite view. That building is probably 15 stories high.
posted by bshort at 9:25 AM on March 23, 2007

155 West 29th street is probably a medium-large office building with many many businesses in it.

He meant the same address including the suite number:

155 West 29 Street
Suite # 9B

155 West 29 Street #9B

Which is weird.
posted by cmonkey at 10:05 AM on March 23, 2007

Best answer: But now that I look into it, your bookseller's name is "Nina Sagar", and is registered to "Arjun Sagar". I'm too lazy to make the Dart Air & textbooks4all connections, but it's entirely possible that it's just a family and friends sharing office space in New York.

In any event, if this is the same company with a new location, you should get the book, but you might not be happy with it.
posted by cmonkey at 10:26 AM on March 23, 2007

Best answer: A little weird, but my office [an architectural firm] also has a film editing office within our suite. Oddly enough I can look out my window right now [I'm on West 30th] and see this building. I can't peer into 9B however, but if I see anything suspicious I'll let you know.
posted by yeti at 10:38 AM on March 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have been dealing with abe for years. On occasions, books have not arrived. I have put in a claim and abe has refunded.

Many really cheap books are sold by companies who buy them in bulk and sell them with a view to making a profit on the shipping. They are (generally) legit and you will (generally) get your book. They also sell other stuff as is the case with your seller. They are not book-lovers but merchandisers but, if you get your book, you probably don't care.
posted by TheRaven at 10:56 AM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all! After what cmonkey said, I searched around for a bit and I guess that's most probable.

And after all, I suppose I should wait until my book does(n't) arrive. I was curious, though.

yeti: I've hired you as my private eye. You and I can go by codenames 'Blue' and 'White', respectively.

</Auster reference>
posted by suedehead at 11:34 AM on March 23, 2007

I'll chime in with a satisfactory report buying a somewhat rare book through Abe.
posted by scalefree at 11:37 AM on March 23, 2007

NYC is teeming with office spaces that rent either tiny or virtual offices; these may be shared by businesses and/or have frequent turnover. Google is teeming with addresses that aren't perfectly up to date.

There's no problem here except, frankly, an impatient OP and a thread that is now needlessly (and permanently, speaking of Google!) invading innocent people's privacy...

Candidate for deletion or at least expunging these people's names & addresses?
posted by sparrows at 9:46 PM on March 23, 2007

Although this has been answered and most likely no one will see this I'll post it for future AskMe askers:

One of my sisters-in-law worked for a company in Seattle that rented out one-room offices in a big office suite. She, and a few co-workers, did all the clerical work (answered phones, some data entry, copying, mailing, etc.) for the people who rented out the offices. Although they all had the same mailing address, each office renter was a different company.
posted by deborah at 11:46 AM on March 28, 2007

Best answer: I saw the thread on MetaTalk and figured I'd post a followup -- I did receive the book. Honestly, I wouldn't have posted the question if it hadn't been such a slow day that day, but oh well.
posted by suedehead at 8:47 AM on April 10, 2007

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