Written by Misc

Dirk Gently

Last Thursday I decided that I’d quite like to order a copy of the recent Radio 4 adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Produced by the same production team that made the recent Hitch Hikers’ follow-ups, I missed the Radio 4 airing, so thought I’d catch up on CD.
I headed off to Amazon and searched for it. I couldn’t find it. All I could see were various new and old editions of the books. I knew for a fact that the CD set was out – it was rush-released the nano-second the Radio 4 series had ended. BBC Worldwide were perfectly aware that this would be a big seller in the run up to Christmas.
Now when I look for audiobooks, I never know whether I should be searching in books or music. My site search had failed so now I searched in music and then books. In books, I found the audiobook section and finding it not-featured on the front page, I looked at Amazon’s top selling audiobooks. It must be in there somewhere.
It wasn’t.
Now I began to wonder if something strange had happened with the release. Perhaps there was a cock-up and the CDs couldn’t be released for some reason. I went to Play, but there they had not only the CDs, but a background video promoting the production – this was evidently a major audiobook release for play.
I went back to Amazon. I couldn’t find it. Then I looked for another high-profile BBC audiobook release – Down The Line – featuring Paul Whitehouse et al. This is another massive Christmas comedy release. It too was not to be found anywhere on Amazon.
I emailed Amazon:
I wanted to drop you a note because I’m quite surprised that Amazon doesn’t seem to stock an audiobook that I’m after. It’s the recent BBC Audiobooks release of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” starring Harry Enfield, and recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4. I’m pretty sure that in stores it must be one of the bestselling titles currently, yet I can’t find it anywhere on the Amazon website.
I’ve searched high and low with no luck. I’ve also noticed that another high-profile BBC audiobook comedy title – Down The Line – is similarly not listed.
Is Amazon deliberately not selling these titles? Is there an issue between yourselves and the suppliers over some of these titles?
I suppose I’m going to have to shop for the Dirk Gently title elsewhere.

A couple of days later, I got a response:
Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.co.uk.
I’ve searched our retail catalogue, but the item you asked about is not currently listed.
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer this item, as we’re currently out of stock of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and we are not able to guarantee when or if it will be available for purchase on our website. For this reason, the item is currently not listed on our website.
I will be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback such as yours helps us to continue improving the selection and service we provide. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to write to us.
We suggest checking our website from time to time to see if this item has come back in stock or if it is available from a third-party seller through Amazon.co.uk Marketplace.
You could also search our Auctions (http://s1.amazon.co.uk/exec/varzea/subst/home/home.html/) or zShops
(http://s1.amazon.co.uk/exec/varzea/subst/home/fixed.html/) sites to see if anyone is selling a copy of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “Down The Line”, there.

It went on to explain a bit more about Amazon marketplace.
But it was all a little odd. Could they really be out of stock of an item that only went on sale this month? It’s not as though it’s a Nintendo Wii for which stock is always low. Why should I have to go to Amazon’s marketplace?
I did have a look in my local Waterstones. No sign of Dirk Gently but plenty of copies of Down The Line.
On Sunday evening, all was back to normal. Dirk Gently was back in stock, and I ordered a copy which has just arrived.
Now Amazon may well have run out of stock of this item, but surely all they have to do is say that they can get copies within 4 to 6 weeks or whatever is the default. This item is not likely to go “out of print” for months or even years.
I suppose, in the end, it’s more likely to be cock-up than conspiracy, but still not great service.