Monday, May 07, 2007

I Just Feel Like We're Not Communicating...

I'll be teaching an advanced level Japanese class next Fall and I've been looking around for a textbook to use. The normal way to go about this is to contact the textbook publisher and request a free desk copy so you can check out the text before you commit to making your whole class buy it. Unfortunately, this is apparently not the way Japanese publishers do business, but you have to read between the lines a little to get that. Witness the email exchange I had today with the rep from the Japanese publisher. Originally this communication started when I submitted a comment form from their website requesting a desk copy of the intermediate text.
Dear Ms Pamming About,

Thank you for your e-mail.

We would like to tell you that we ask our agent,
XYZ bookstore in San Francisco to send
you Elementary 1 textbook and workbook.

To go ahead, we would appreciated it if you could
let us know your address.

Once again, we thank you for your interest in
our publications.

Yours sincerely,

I was a little perplexed when I received this message this morning because I couldn't recall having requested copies of those books and had half forgotten about the request I sent through the website a week and a half ago. So, I sent back this email--

Dear Ms. Publisher Rep,

Thank you very much for your email. We already use the level I and II textbooks and workbooks in our first and second year classes. My inquiry was about the
Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese by A. Sushi and N. Sashimi for adoption by our third-year Japanese class. If you could send a desk copy of that, I would appreciate it.

My mailing address is:
Pamming About
Dept. of Languages, Literatures and Stuff
Random State Univ.
Podunk, NH

Best Regards,

Because, I really did think perhaps she had misunderstood my original request since all the textbooks have almost exactly the same name. Then, I received this reply--

Dear Ms Pamming About,

Thank you for your e-mail.

We regret to inform you that we are able to offer Elementary 1
textbook and workbook for free. We would appreciated
it if you could understand our company's policy.

Once again,we thank you for your interest in our publications.

Yours sincerely,

Don't you just love it? The rep regretfully informs me she can supply me with the books I don't really need, but never actually says she can't/won't send the one I am interested in and then asks me to understand the company's policy, which has really only been alluded to and not ever explicitly stated. I know it's just an extremely Japanese style of communication, but wtf? Is she afraid my feelings will be hurt if she just straight out told me they don't supply desk copies of that title? Every time I run into stuff like this I'm glad all over again that I left Japan and came home.

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