So, first thing – I really like Phantom of the Opera. I grew up listening to the music, I saw the play when it was in town several years ago, burned a friends copy of the bajillion dollar (or more like $60) broadway cast soundtrack, saw the movie twice in the theater, was “evil” and downloaded a horrible version of the movie from torrentreactor.net, purchased the film soundtrack, then bought the dvd the day it came out. Now, despite all that, I don’t consider myself obsessed with Phantom of the Opera, I’m just….a devoted fan….I guess. I mean, it’s not like a have little figurines in my room or naughty dreams about a disfigured mask-wearing man trying to woo me. I just like the story, and I like reading fluffy fiction now and then, so sue me, k?

After the movie was released in theaters I decided to read the original book by Gaston Leroux. It was a bit different from the play of course, but I liked it and got more of a backstory on the characters. About six months ago I decided to look on amazon.com for any other Phantom books that might be a good read and it turned out there was this one getting all sorts of praise everywhere I looked. The book is Phantom by Susan Kay (I’m wondering how many hits I’ll get here from google just from writing that combonation of words – I’m telling you, girls want this thing more than triple-layer chocolate fudge cake on their worst PMS day) and it has been out of print since ’93 or ’96. When I first started looking to buy a copy it was selling for $100-$300 (paperpack or hardcover) on ebay and amazon. I searched for hooooouuuuurs online (honestly, it became more of a challenge to find it than a scary Phantom obsession) and I finally found a copy for about 30 bucks or so. I laughed maniacally and pressed the “add to cart” button.

A few hours later I got an email refunding my money and a note from the booksellers website stating someone else had already purchased it, they just hadn’t taken the listing off their website yet. I was upset, but knew the quest must go on. A week or two (and many hours of searching) later I found it on another website for about $32. I bought it, waited, and then that dreaded email came. It went something like, “Sorry, here’s your money back you Phantom Phreak [woah, Hackers flashback]. Someone else bought it and we’re just too lazy to update our website”.

By this time I was getting desperate. I had gone online and requested it from the library ages ago but the waiting list still had me at 7 of 7 holds. So I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, it was my turn to get the book. Then, as fate would have it, I went to check and see if it was being shipped to me and the page had changed to read “book lost and paid for”. $@#$^%@#$^$%^!

I’d been hearing about this sort of thing for awhile. People all over the US were going to their libraries, mysteriously “losing” their copy of Phantom, and then paying the listed book fee of $19.95 or less. Sweet (immoral) deal for them, sucky deal for me.

(Are you guys still with me?)

Anyway, I’m getting to the end here.

SO, for the last few months I’ve scaled the search back, only checking ebay every now and then for an affordable copy. Two nights ago I hit paydirt and saw an australian auction for Phantom with a “Buy It Now” at around $5 (USD). Only problem was, the seller had listed “Non-australian buyers email me for shipping price BEFORE bidding or purchasing”. And being a seller on ebay, I know it sucks when people don’t read your auction and follow the rules. So good lil’ Megan didn’t click the purchase button and instead sent a frantic email stating “PLEASE WHAT IS THE S&H!?! EMAIL ME BACK BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE BUYS THIS!!”. Or something along those lines.

I kept checking and rechecking my email for a reply. Then I checked the acution again which revealed “Auction has ended with Buy It Now”. SUCK SUCK SUCK! I emailed the seller, explained I had intened to buy the book much earlier when I had first emailed them, but I wanted to follow their rules so I waited. They basically said, “Sorry, we apologize but an Australian bidder bought it. Our policy is unfair to international bidders and we should change it. Sucks for you”.

I don’t even care what this stupid story is about anymore. I just want to read it because every single review says it’s the best writing ever and the author sucks you into the book (not in that creepy Harry Potter-Tom Riddle Diary sort of way but in that “Woah, this is an awesome book, where did the last 12 hours of my life go?” kind of way).

(And now the finale to this over-wrought tale)

I finally said “Screw it, I’m buying the book now. Over-pricing be damned”. Went on amazon yesterday, actually found what must have been a new-ish listing for a hardcover copy for $30, and I bought it. $33 with shipping – not too shabby. I was a little dissappointed it wouldn’t arrive in time to take on my trip, but at least I would have it waiting for me when I returned.

So, who can guess what our nice little library man left on my doorstep 30 minutes ago, the day after I bought this most sought after book, and MONTHS after the same “lost and paid” message has been displayed on my library account? Anyone?

What? A hardcover copy of Phantom by Susan Kay? How’d you know?!?

Conclusion:

1. The universe is sick, twisted, and too full of irony for my taste.
2. I can at least bring the library book on my trip and make a few bucks off the copy I already bought.

THE END

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