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. It’s a shitty hack too, I mean he left freakin’ unclosed HTML tags all over. If you’re going to hack a site, at least hack it properly and close your damn tags. I mean, seriously, talk about amateur hour.


  2. I think it’s more of poking fun at geocites and the webpages that used it. I seriously thought I had accidentally gone to one of my friend’s old sites when I checked xkdc a little while ago. :3 I approve.


  3. It’s totally missing the annoying background music that cannot be turned off. Otherwise, the 90′s look is pretty much complete.


  4. “It’s totally missing the annoying background music that cannot be turned off. Otherwise, the 90’s look is pretty much complete.”

    “I do hope you keep your “redesign” tucked away in some little corner of your site for those unfortunate enough to miss this today.”

    ^ I absolutely agree. And yes, do you have a webring?


  5. “I do hope you keep your “redesign” tucked away in some little corner of your site for those unfortunate enough to miss this today.”


    Your geocities redesign is excellent. However, I was disappointed to see that the hit counter is non-functional, and that you did not use frames. For those reasons, I give it 9 out of 10 stars


  6. Sergioa says:
    “I’ll miss Geocities so much. ;_;”

    I’ll miss it too. Your new “Geocities-like” layout is awesome! “Unfortunately”, tomorrow the “clean layout” will be back ;)

    But… I saved the “hacked” version of the page! hurrah for the Web 1.0 !


  7. When I saw the new design, I thought “Oh, cute stars,” read the comic, and left. It wasn’t until I read the comments here that I realized there was something wrong. This possibly proves that visitors just want good content, and don’t really care how it’s presented.
    Also, I saved the star .GIF.


  8. Heh. My first thought when I saw the main page was: “Wait… what? Is it April’s Fool? *checks calendar* No, it’s not. … What?” I can’t believe I actually doubted what month it was.

    (It reminds me of the old websites I used to browse as a preteen. Ahh. The memories.)


  9. I LOVED your site redesign! Such attention to detail! Such memories! You captured the look so, so well! BLINK! But I agree about the lack of irritating MIDI.


  10. The best I’ve seen in the wild was a geocities site with Best viewed with Netscape 4.X at 800 x 600 at the bottom.

    Not that I’m one to talk; I learned HTML from Neopets and thought that was the most awesome thing ever.


  11. Well, it cut the tags on that comment. The site had “Best viewed with Netscape 4.X at 800 x 600″ blinking, and I really liked the marquee tag…


  12. Since these are comments about the book timeline blog, I’d be curious to know just how many ‘signed’ editions Randall had to complete.


  13. This has nothing to do with your blog post – I spent the past few days reading the all strips (I had just found out about xkcd) and I have had a few nightmares with raptors in it. Thank you.


  14. Just wanted to say I just received my signed copy of the book (well it is still at USPS). So that other people now they are still shipping them


  15. Still no shipping confirmation. Still nothing but promises.

    I’m going to wait two more weeks, but then I’m going to see if I can get my money back. It’s kind of ridiculous having to hound a seller to know where your stuff is. I thought there used to be a law stating that if something was backordered more than a month, you had to be notified. All the info I have received has been in response to my queries.

    I’ll definitely think twice about ordering again :(


  16. I’m not going to ask for my money back, but it would be nice to know where my gear is. I emailed last week and didn’t get an answer, but I did speak to Randall on #xkcd, and he said everything had been shipped except those who had emailed special requests. I’m sort of hoping I’ll see mine soon…


  17. No sign of mine yet, and I’m in the UK.

    Emailed orders@xkcd a couple of weeks ago and just got the email that others seem to have received.

    Ugh. Won’t be ordering from the xkcd store again after this clusterfsck…


  18. I have heard of a Wikipedia prank, where you go into the edit, and put [[]] around the non joining words, to make them into links and try to get a whole paragraph like that. Just thought you might like to know.


  19. Sie amk. I was so sorry to hear what you were going through since November….and seeing your Monday April 4 comic – I wonder if things are better or how you’re coping up with the illness in your family. Your comic strip has made so many, many of us laugh through the years and have a sense of humor about life through our tough times, wishing you strength during yours. vay ak.


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