I have a rant about buying games from the Amazon Marketplace. I purchased a few used Ultima-related items from Amazon last week. It's really a huge gamble as to whether you're going to get a game in the condition it was described. Part of this is due to the craptacular packaging most Amazon sellers use. And by craptacular, I mean bubbleope. Sometimes not even that--I received an Ultima clue book that was packaged in a thin plastic envelope with no bubble wrap at all. It is bent nicely in the middle (perpendicular to the spine!), as if someone tried to bend the book in half. I also received a copy of Ultima VIII Publisher's Edition, described by the seller as in "Very Good" condition. Well, not by the time it arrived to me. It was shipped in a bubble envelope and had obviously been crushed during shipping. Which is a shame, as the contents of the box are all in great condition, but the box (and these are fairly strong boxes!) is crushed on one side. So I'll need to hunt another one of these down.
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I've also received a few Ultima-related books, but those have fortunately survived the journey unscathed.
I do have to commend one seller--today I received a copy of the Software Toolworks Ultima I-VI Collection. It was described as "Good" and "Comes with box and instruction manuals". Oftentimes I'll write the seller and ask for clarification (especially with a game like this, which has several maps, two books, etc.), but I didn't in this case. The game was shipped in a box (a big surprise from an Amazon Marketplace seller) and the game itself was thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap. The box was accurately described (good, not very good), and everything inside the box was in excellent condition, including all the (thick paper) maps. Amusingly, the map for Ultima I has small post it notes all over it, marking city/town/dungeon names. Glad they went that route instead of writing directly on the map! Also, as a bonus, this seller included an original Ultima VIII CD as well as the cloth map that came with the game.
I have a few other items from Amazon that will be coming this week, including more games. I did have a conversation with one seller asking if he'd ship a game (an original cardboard box version of Arx Fatalis) in a box, and he responded,
"Asolutely, sir. I am a collector myself, and I could never shove a flimsy cardboard box in a bubble mailer and pretend I was doing my job. You probably will not find a seller who is more understanding about these things than me."
Wish everyone had this attitude! Unless you can get a seller to commit to shipping in a box, you pretty much have to assume bubble envelope or worse. The same is true with eBay sellers as well, and I always ask them in advance if they will ship in a box. I've rarely been turned down, although I have had people tell me they'll ship in a box and then ship in a bubble envelope or worse (like simply wrapping paper around the item and shipping it... really?)