I admit my years-long hunt for the rare Golden Travel Guide to Italy was at once tedious, disappointing, suspenseful and thrilling. I started searching for this scarce book in 2012 when I was in the process of adding to my collection of Golden Guides. Over the years I have occasionally input the same Google keywords “The Golden Travel Guide to Italy Friedlander 1955” and I have been rewarded twice for my dogged queries: once on Ebay.com with a price of $199 and another time on Amazon.com for $200. The exorbitant price tags guaranteed that I would never succumb to the sellers’ demands.
Even when I completed my collection (sans one!) of Golden Guides, my spasmodic search continued. Eventually, I found no copies for sale online, and the breaks between inquiries increased substantially.
I don’t know what prompted me to search for the book last month. Perhaps I saw or read something online about travel or Golden Guides while I was searching for holiday gifts. Maybe I glanced at my collection, high on a top shelf in my library. Whatever the reason, on December 17th I typed in the familiar search keywords. And this time I was rewarded.
Nadirkitap.com is a Turkish bookselling site with over nine million books to choose from. And one of them was my travel guide.
The price was more than reasonable: 28.87. And that lovely currency symbol after the numbers, TL, or Turkish Lira, meant that the book would cost 3.90 USD. The exchange rate varies throughout the day, and the amount quoted to me was 30.00 TL (4.08), yet I paid 28.87 TL. In fact, at one point yesterday the exchange rate was 28.87 TL, and today it is 28.69 TL.
I still needed to know the shipping, and after a couple of emails I found out that I had to first pay for the book before the shipping would be calculated, and I did so. I happily paid after I discovered the price of a package that weighed less than one pound shipped to me from Istanbul, Turkey, would be about $40.00. A bargain to be sure.
I was soon quoted a shipping price of 40.00 TL, but when the alert came through from my bank, a text questioning whether I had just made a purchase in Turkey, the value of the TL had obviously dropped and my shipping price was to be 38.93 TL. The USD amount charged to my account was $5.26. I was gobsmacked!
All correspondence from the seller was in Turkish. An email was sent to me each time a message appeared in my account page, and I would quickly copy and paste the text and insert it into Google’s Turkish to English translation page.
I was provided with a tracking number, and the seller wrote me that the shipping time would take longer because of the pandemic, which made sense. The book left Turkey on December 22, and it reached the United States on January 14. It passed customs on the 15th, and was “Added to Bag,” with a tag that read: “Send item to domestic location.” I deduced that the book was ready to begin its journey from somewhere on the east coast to Michigan.
No tracking updates followed, and I was unable to follow the book’s route. But on January 20 the seller wrote me that there had been movement in my cargo and that it should arrive soon.
The book arrived yesterday, after several weeks of travel. I wrote immediately to thank the seller and her reply, “I’m happy for you,” made me smile.
My copy of The Golden Travel Guide to Italy is in fabulous condition, and for $9.16, I couldn’t be happier.