Signed Book Timeline

When I put my book up for sale, I thought it would be neat to offer the option of a signed copy to people who ordered in the first 24 hours. It was a popular option (more popular than we expected), and some people are wondering why they took so long to get there (most should have arrived last week, the last few American copies should have arrived by now, and overseas orders will be shipping outas soon as I finish signing them).  I had put a note on the order page warning that the signed copies would take longer to ship; if anyone’s interested in why they took as long as they did, here’s the story:

The regular copies were shipped immediately, and continue to ship on time.  The people who ship the books get them out fast — orders are generally shipped within 36 hours of when we get them.  The signed books started shipping out within a few days of the initial sale, and generally arrived promptly.  The books were being printed right up to the publication date, so I didn’t actually have a large stock of them beforehand.  Since I had no idea how popular the signed copies would be, I put up a note saying that the signed books might take longer to ship, since I’d be signing them after they were ordered.  This meant they had to be shipped to me first, before going to the shipping people.  It turned out (to my delight and horror) that they were extremely popular, and we had to raise the price just to make sure there wouldn’t be more orders than I had time to sign.

Since I was going on the book tour soon after the book went up for sale, we had the bulk of the books sent out to the reddit offices in San Francisco.  For the week after my book tour, I sat up late at one of their desks signing books (and working my way through the entire run of The West Wing).  I got all those signed by the end of the week (leaving an impressive callous on my right middle finger) and left the reddit office full of boxes for FedEx.  They picked them up Monday the 28th and took them to the shipping place in Virginia.  Because of the weight, they had to go ground, so they took all of that week to go there.  Those books shipped out within 36 hours of arriving, so they should have arrived late last week.

I got back to Boston, and later that week the next set of books arrived there.  I signed a large set of those, which finished off the US orders, and they went to the distribution office for shipping out sometime last week.  For the last week, I’ve been signing boxes of mainly European orders (followed by Australia and other overseas, which take longer to ship), and I should be finishing those up in the next handful of days.  Then there’s a four-or-five day delay as they’re sent to the shipping people (too heavy to send by anything but FedEx Ground), and they’ll go out then.  I apologize to anyone whose signed books took longer than they expected to arrive.  If you have any questions or problems regarding your order, email

Thank you so much to everyone who ordered a book.  If you’re interested, there are some pictures of the xkcd school site in Laos over on the BreadPig blog.

128 thoughts on “Signed Book Timeline

  1. I’m still waiting for the passive-agressive comic showing you with your all-but destroyed hand receiving a shipment of 1,000 books to sign. lol. Good luck with all that!

  2. I got my signed copy a few days ago thinking it would be a good keepsake, and I hadn’t even had a chance to read the whole thing before my puppy snatched it off the coffee table and chewed the cover off. :(

    I have a sneaking suspicion there were remnants of bacon grease on it.

    Anyway, thanks for the great book.

  3. I got my signed book this weekend, so awesome! Is the hat guy really part of the signature?

  4. Got signed copy Saturday :-)

    This may be a strange question, but what kind of pen did you use to sign?

  5. I got my book on Friday afternoon. Then about 7 hours later I got the e-mail saying it had been shipped. So that was a little weird.

  6. Let’s talk about how brilliant the West Wing is, right up until Season 5. Because its fucking brilliant.

    I don’t know what else he does, but Aaron Sorkin – when addicted to a stimulant – writes dialog which posits an alternate reality in which I’d like to exist. Its really too bad he dealt with his addiction before starting Studio 60.

  7. Still waiting on mine, but that’s okay, because Canada is like that.

    School site looks awesome. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Laos, had a girlfriend who originated there.

  8. Just wanted to say thanks for doing the signed copies. I haven’t gotten mine yet, but am in no rush, I figured there would be a lot of people ordering them. I am just thankful that I am able to get a signed copy even though I couldn’t get to one of the signings. Thanks for signing books and for having a great comic!

  9. I am proud to be a contributor to your future Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ;)

    Not really understanding the whole ‘lets sign the copies that take the longest to ship last’ thing, but what the hey, mine’s in the post.

    (and my captcha says ‘calluses’; hum)

  10. No signed copy here either (Michigan), but again, I understand how random the mail and shipping companies can be.

    Even as an American though, I have to agree with Omer van Kloeten’s comment. You knew that the copies going to Europe and elsewhere outside of the United States were going to take darn near *forever* to arrive. Why prioritize American copies?

    Oh well. I wish all those outside of the States the best on their shipping times. I’d gladly wait a few more days for my copy so that some of you could get yours quicker.

  11. You didn’t already have one of those callouses on your middle finger? I must just be very persistent in maintaining my old fashioned writing habits.

  12. Ohhh, so can we look forward to West Wing references soon?

    (FWIW, if you liked WW, try Studio 60 despite not-so-positive comments. And watch Sports Night just to be sure!)

  13. just wanted to say congratulations on the kickass sales! I truly wish you all the best and continued success. you’re a fantastically special person with a fantastically special mind…

  14. Garrett: I sign most things (prints and posters) with a sharpie with a very fine point, but I signed all the books with the same pen I use to draw most of the comics, a Faber-Castell Pitt S. The sharpie’s better for smooth stuff which the ink sits on top of, but the Pitt is better for book pages because it bleeds less The Pitt pens run out of ink quickly but I like them very much.

    Phil: Did you hear that Aaron Sorkin is writing the upcoming Facebook movie?

    Omer van Kloeten: The idea was that it’s less harmful/noticable to add a few days to a book that’s already taking many weeks to ship than add a few days to a book that’s going out USPS priority and will only take 2-3 days otherwise. I hope that was the right thinking …

  15. An xkcd comic about The West Wing would complete my life. Kudos on the book sales! Mine should be here soon (OH)…

  16. Thanks for addressing the issue! Very nice to hear some updates.
    Haven’t gotten anything in the mail (email or real life versions) yet, but I’ll send an email to the address you listed.

  17. I wish I had taken a picture of the wall-o-books you left in our office before FedEx got hold of them. I was surprised to see them when I came in on Monday.

  18. I am glad you addressed the reasons for the long delay in the shipping time, and the reason you left overseas copies last (that makes sense). To know the reasons it’s always better than been kept blind.
    I will faithfully wait for my two copies to arrive to Italy
    Congratulations for the “we build the school” achievement.

  19. Still waiting eagerly for my (unsigned, too poor to afford the signed :-( ) copy to arrive in the UK…. but then Royal Mail are permanently on strike at the moment so probably arrive sometime next year (!)

    (I got something through the post the other day that was sent within the UK first class … a month previous!)

  20. I got my signed copy Saturday. Very nice.

    Great comics, too bad I already knew 99% of them. =P

  21. Will you ever be putting up signed copies for sale again? Unfortunately, I did not have access to credit card in the first 24 hours of the sale.

  22. Sorry about the fingers, though I was curious about the delay. I’m in Australia though, so it’s nice to know we haven’t been forgotten down here, and that it’s going to be on its way.

  23. A good friend bought a copy for me so I’ve no idea what the shipping time to Austin, TX, might have been. I’m glad to have it and I look forward to giving you some of my own money for other stuff in the store.

    Incidentally, have you ever considered introducing a goat or two to the comic? The possibilities are endless…

  24. Got my shipping notification today (I live in NJ). Very excited to receive my signed copy! :-)

  25. Happy day today, as I also received my shipping notification. Just have to wait now for the carrier pigeons to make it across the oceans to Australia.

  26. Ah, suck. I didn’t realize there was a signing option, and I ordered the book as soon as it came out. D’:

  27. I propose a Cambridge/Somerville Book Signing Event at Newtowne. Free Beer/Pizza combo for any and all XKCD authors signing books.

  28. Received mine a couple of days ago. I was starting to get worried after seeing the delight from everyone else’s tweets, yet remembered the touch delay. It’s home, safe. Now, to find time to enjoy it!

  29. I just got my book today for my 15th birthday! It is very well done and I look forward to working out all the red-ink code. It took me a while to figure out the page numbers were in base three, though.

  30. It breaks my heart that Canada is ‘overseas’, but only because I’d like to be reading the book as soon as possible. I’m glad the sales were such a success!

  31. Re grounding straps usually have an alligator clip at the other end, which can be deployed in a *very* interesting fashion in any context where one participant is (or could be) wearing a condom…

    To illustrate yet another entirely wholesome application, I used to bring a grounding strap to Grateful Dead concerts; the clip served a *very* different purpose, but it was most convenient that the item attached to it could be sent back in my direction with a tug on the coiled wire…

  32. I collected mine in Australia on Saturday (the card saying it had arrived showed up about 9 days earlier, I just hadn’t been able to get down to the post office before then). But then, I didn’t get in in time to get a signed copy!

    Took the opportunity to pick up a print too, since I was shipping anyway.

    Now just trying to work out the codes!

  33. I just received my order, and there’s only 1 book there rather than the 4 than I ordered :(.

  34. Woo hoo! The carrier pigeons just delivered mine. Unfortunately now it means my productivity at work is going to be awful for the rest of the afternoon.

  35. I just wanted to say thank you! I really like how you took the extra time to not only sign but draw Black Hat Guy (I’m pretty positive that you drew it at least). And I’m glad it raised enough money to build the school. Books and new buildings are two of my favorite things. xkcd is another. Thanks for bringing more of all three to the world. : )

  36. Still no sign of my book or t-shirt. I’m e-mailing the order center but I would think it would have reached me by now, if it was sent around the 9th or so.

  37. I only got shipping confirmation for mine a couple of days ago, but then I’m reasonably certain that I was one of the last (if not the very last) people to order a signed copy. Now I just have to avoid the temptation to repeat “is it here yet?” every few minutes. ;)

    Incidentally, I think it might have made more sense to sign them in reverse order (longest ship time first) — that way, it might all even out and everyone would receive theirs at the same time. (Of course, I’m biased, having quite a long ship time myself.)

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