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Amazon’s PNG book ban – too many ‘go missing’

Shipments of many books to PNG, including some of great importance, are being delayed because of thefts from the postal service


TUMBY BAY - Amazon in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom and Amazon’s other international outlets say they won't ship to Papua New Guinea because too many orders go missing.

PNG is among a number of countries that Amazon won't ship to because of this problem.

Publicly Amazon says this is related to Covid-19, but when you question the company about individual shipments it admits the real problem is the loss or theft of shipments.

The only option for people in PNG is to have the book shipped to someone in Australia who can forward it to PNG. This adds much more to the purchase cost.

Australia Post charges ridiculous rates to post books to PNG.

As I discovered with 'Man Bilong Buk', it costs about $35 to have it delivered to an address in PNG, which is about five times what it costs for postage from the US to Australia.

There are shipping agents in the US, where books from Amazon are shipped from, and also agents in Australia, which will tranship stuff, but they usually do it through shipping agents like DHL and charge exorbitant rates.

What is really required is for bookshops in PNG, like the UPNG Bookshop, to purchase wholesale copies, but none of them seem interested.

Other independent publishers, including those based in Australia, do the same thing as Amazon and refuse to ship to PNG.

Independent publishing now accounts for a sizeable market share and is used by many well-known writers who prefer to have editorial and retail control over their books.

Unfortunately PNG misses out because of its shipping security problems.

This is just another reason why PNG writers need government support.

Keith Jackson writes…..

The theft of books from the PNG postal service has become a huge problem for Papua New Guinean writers and readers.

It’s particularly appalling for writers who at the best of times have huge difficulties in printing and distributing their works.

That Australia Post adds salt to the wound with a misguided and unfriendly policy of making it more expensive to post even small packages to PNG, compared say to Europe and North America, is a shocking way to treat Australia’s nearest neighbour.

This combination of factors has delayed shipments of ‘Man Bilong Buk’ – Phil and my compilation of the Francis Nii story – to PNG.

I have made a trial shipment of 15 individually satchelled books to writers in different part of PNG along with an email request to let me know when they arrive.

So far I’ve received OKs from five writers in Port Moresby, Goroka and Mt Hagen.

Deliveries to the USA, Ireland and Scotland arrived some weeks ago.

I’m withholding further shipments, including a large one of 50 books, until I can be sure I have a reliable means of delivery.

Bel blo mi i hat tumas.


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Philip Kai Morre

Should we look for another publisher in Australia or New Zealand. We are finding it hard now and it's killing us authors.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Possibly the best option for PNG writers would be if an enterprising PNG person in Cairns could receive the books and send them on for a reasonable fee.

Dominica Are

The reckless actions of a few has cost us now. This is disheartening news especially for a first timer in this journey as a published author. I was looking forward to purchase my copies and also do a collection of PNG authored books.

Will try ordering via Australia.

I have received my copy of ' Man Bilong Buk', on the 16th November. Thank you Keith.

Daniel Kumbon

Phil - I suggest we request Amazon to send all PNG books to Port Moresby only. Not direct to Lae or any other port in the country.

Because I have safely received all my orders through UPS, TNT and DHL which all have spacious warehouses in the capital.

I think I had only one order missing which was promptly replaced by Amazon.

What I did was to have all my books shipped to my wantok's address in Port Moresby who would then forward the package to me in Wabag or I would fly down to collect them.

Now for my latest book 'Victory Song of Pingeta's Daughter' I have provided an address in Brisbane from where the books would be redirected to me here in Port Moresby to take home to Wabag. It's an expensive exercise but I am committed to it.

So, Phil lets please try and approach Amazon and have all future PNG book orders sent only to secure addresses Port Moresby and not anywhere else in the country. And we must promise that if the shipments get lost after landing them safely on PNG soil, we will not ask for replacement.

And mailing one copy to consumers in PNG should not be a problem. A copy of 'Man Bilong Buk' sent to me by Keith Jackson was waiting for me at the Boroko post office the other day. When the young man asked me for the tracking number, I knew the PNG postal service is not all doom and gloom.

Amazon refusing to post book orders to PNG would kill our literary efforts. And our eyes will soon go blind when we tried to read e-copies off the computer screen. And we would have to buy units to read our creations.

Arthur Williams

Sadly I gave up sending anything to my daughters etc in Kavieng many years ago.

In 2014 I thought I would go down the 'Poste Restante' used by round-the-world yachties to receive mail at their next port of call.

I contacted Amos an officer at [email protected] He said the PO provides that service.

So on 5th Nov 2014 paid K30 (£7) to send by airmail a tracked Post Restante letter to my daughter in New Ireland.
On 2nd Dec 2014 I checked with our Royal Mail and they told me it was being 'processed' in Moresby.

I emailed Amos at Post PNG about the delay in onforwarding.

He promptly replied telling me one of his staff was devising 'a plan of action' to get it delivered.

Dec 14 2014 asked him where it was.

Jan 9th 2015 I asked him where it was.

Jan 21st asked again.

Jan 24th Amos sent me copy of an email he had received from Alex Mckiwa, Team Leader - Mail Exchange Office | Post Logistics Konedobu | Landline: +(675) 3053852
The letter was in Kavieng ready to be collected.

Jan 28th daughter got my letter after 84 days.

As Agency Postmaster for Tari in mid-80s, I was bombarded by many folk wanting to know where their parcels were.

I would try and get the missing items sent across from Hagen mail centre but it was often a very long frustrating wait. ''No gat transpot!' was the normal answer I received. This despite regular trucks bring all sorts of items for government institutions in the valley.

When the missing parcels arrived it was generally a huge load of perhaps a few tonnes. Our tiny PO had no space to keep them. Interestingly my Agency clerk was Larry 'Abragali' (??) who in this century I believe became a big name in the trucking business of the Highlands.

One possible reason for delay is that PNG customs are involved. It is alleged they check every incoming mail and parcel for prohibited goods.

As an ex-Welsh Guard in pre-TV1982 I wanted to learn a little more of the terrible slaughter of 48 men in my old regiment on the 'Sir Galahad' in the fight with Argentina.

So I bought a documentary video from the BBC I think it was. It never arrived. I eventually got a demand invoice from PNG Customs for some exorbitant fee for my video.

I wrote back to them that the tape was merely a news item not a film etc. Never got a reply nor the video.

Interestingly I was told by a New Irelander that he had joined a few friends at a custom officer's home for a private film night of mostly porn movies they had confiscated and 'Destroyed' to protect the morals of PNG citizens.

The rot of course began at the top of PNG society and eventually the underlings thought if the Boss does it why not us and so the rot spread lower down the chain of command.

My PC's Corruption files show a marked trend of the amounts now being fraudulently acquired by too many white collar criminals are growing from the early days of K10000s to many millions.

I have grown accustomed to hear nearly every incoming PM (VoNC or not) to 'maus-wara' to the media, “I am going to rid PNG of corruption!” I think too many of the current crap of MPs have difficulty sleeping straight in bed.

The National had a lovely Editorial on 2nd Nov about endemic corruption in PNG. I emailed them that it was a funny story as Looking North to the newspaper's owner's homelands CUMSHAW is a normal traditional way of doing business.

It was accepted but then deleted!

Finally I wonder why national fraud directorate director Det Chief Supt Matthew Damaru has been sent back into day-to-day policing on Bougainville when he was doing a good job fighting fraud?

Philip Fitzpatrick

Another problem that Amazon encounters is the PNG Customs service. They sit on shipments for weeks and even months on end and then impose what appears to be random import duties.

They also lose shipments, especially those destined for the highlands, which go via Lae. I've located soggy boxes of books sitting in the open that are supposedly being handled by PNG Customs.

A lot of the Pukpuk authors can attest to the difficulties PNG Customs creates. So too can the main UPS shipping agency in Port Moresby, which has to track down delayed shipments held up by Customs after multiple enquiries by the authors.

Amazon was very good at replacing lost shipments for no extra cost but they have obviously reached a point where it is becoming too frequent and costly to continue doing so.

They are a colossal company who can afford such losses but the idea of shipping books to a place where it is potluck whether they arrive at the right destination is too annoying and time consuming.

The apparently insurmountable problem of supplying books to PNG is one of the main reasons I decided to discontinue running Pukpuk Publications.

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