April 5, 2012

"We were averaging about 60 sets a week, and the next thing we knew, we were selling 1,050 a week."

"When people thought they were going to be around forever, there was no rush to buy one. And then suddenly, boom, and now there is a scarcity, and it’s a collector’s item."

21 comments:

edutcher said...

It'll be like a complete set of mint State Quarters, complete with DC, PR, and the Territories.

Worth big bucks.

crosspatch said...

I think World Book is better for kids. I absolutely loved reading the ones in our set when I was growing up.

Jaske said...

The desire for last issue, not the desire knowledge, a gamble for investment in a (possibly) rare set.

rcommal said...

The impulse certainly hit me: that we should buy a set. Then I thought: What changed? The answer was: Not a thing. So, no sale.

rcommal said...

In addition, I reminded myself that my son will never have the relationship to physical reference books or libraries that I had (and therefore still have, in a real sense but in reality only to a degree, nowadays, practically and in terms of use). Never. That was then, this is now, and then there is the future. Onward ho.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

When there is a failure (and there will be) of digital information technology....when all those digital photos of your children, grandchildren, honeymoon are gone into electronic heaven....when your Kindles and Ipads crap out on you....when your love letters, diaries and correspondence are just pixel memories.....when Wikipedia is so corrupted by unauthorized additions and our computers take a permanent dump.....what will be left?

Left? The last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the hard copies of those classic books, the photos that were rarely printed out on paper.

Dust in the wind.....all we are is dust in the wind...Dudes.

Unless we keep some tangible remnants of our thoughts and civilization we are ephemeral and we won't even BE history.

ErnieG said...

I don't know about the present edition, but I really wish I had a copy of the 11th.

rcommal said...

DBQ: I am VERY sympathetic to the point you made, and it's partly why I haven't been been able to part with my very extensive home library (though, truth be told, mostly it's due to habit and because I love the darn things and simply am not ready). But as to adding brand-new large sets compiled in very recent times? Nope, I just can't justify doing that anymore.

However, I have zero problem with anyone else doing so, for whatever reason: the ones you mentioned, or as a potential investment, or just out of love, or whatever, and I certainly wouldn't want to imply otherwise. The primary reason I shared my thoughts is that just a scant few years ago I would have fought to be first in line based on gut impulse, and now things have changed: who knew? Well, now I do.

Ann Althouse said...

"Left? The last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the hard copies of those classic books, the photos that were rarely printed out on paper."

I've taken tens of thousands of digital photographs, and I have never printed out a single one on paper.

I think what you are saying strikes a deep chord because we know the risk of loss is the same one that we face when we think of a human being dying.

Those losses lay ahead. We know it.

But somehow... in the digital realm... there's a chance that it will never die.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ rcommal

Well, I agree. Although I also have an extensive home library, many key reference books in areas that I have interest and many many old cookbooks that to me are glimpses into a society that doesn't exist anymore. ....I am not ready to become the booklegger of the future either.

I just see a fatal flaw in society as a general whole turning away from tangible copies of not only books but photos and other memorabilia that could easily be ...dust in the wind.

Even old photographs from Victorian days are ephemeral but still more durable than a thumb drive.

Having lost important photos and data myself never to be retrieved again.... I just fear that we are, as a society, putting too much faith in technology and will end up losing something crucial. We will lose our own history and our connection to history. Set adrift in a sea of time.

edutcher said...

DBQ's point is very good. There's a certain beauty to holding those magic leaves in one's hand, but Ann's right, too.

It will be that much harder for knowledge to be lost - or hidden away.

That holds a freedom we're just beginning to appreciate.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've taken tens of thousands of digital photographs, and I have never printed out a single one on paper.

Me to. I am guilty and derelict in that area.

I suppose it is my age, where I see people around me, friends and family, passing away that makes me more aware of the tenuous connections we have in this world and that sometimes all you have of someone or some memory is a photo or other tangible item.

When you are young, everything, including yourself is immortal.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It will be that much harder for knowledge to be lost - or hidden away.

Ha Ha :-D Tell that to someone whose entire music library is on wax cylinder recordings or 4 track tapes...the uber technologies of the day.

I'm not saying that we should not avail ourselves of the latest technology. I LOVE the newest and latest toys and tech stuff. But to think that our current tech stuff is the end of the line and there would be no change, obsolescence or failure ... is like the people who thought the record player in a 1960 Chrysler was the ultimate!!

I guess, I'm just hoping for a balance between accepting the new and not throwing out ALL of the old.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am guilty and derelict in that area."

Why guilty? I don't feel guilty.

Why do we entertain the illusion that what we have now in the present is not always slipping away? The only answer is to treasure the moment. Printing stuff out... what can that do?

edutcher said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It will be that much harder for knowledge to be lost - or hidden away.

Ha Ha :-D Tell that to someone whose entire music library is on wax cylinder recordings or 4 track tapes...the uber technologies of the day.


I know what you mean. I have a couple of soundtrack albums that I'll never hear again...

PatCA said...

A big part of my childhood was sitting on the couch in the evening, paging the encyclopedia. On each page was a new wonder! A queen, a country, a sportsman. I had my favorites sections which I can't remember now, and I would read them over and over again. I hope kids today get the same feeling as they page through their books on line.

Peter Hoh said...

I have an old edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica -- maybe it's the 11th edition, or the 12th. I can't remember. It's been a few years since I've packed it away.

But I know that it exists, in silence, in a box upstairs.

One of these days, I'll have enough bookcases.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

I hate this. I wanted to buy a set within the next few years when I would (presumably) have $1400 to throw around. Now that won't happen.

I want a set for my kids. It's one thing to sit at the computer and look things up. It's another to be able to drag a big book around that you can flip through or (heaven forbid) take outside.

I wanted to get a set and allow it to be well used.

I suppose if this one particular deal goes through early I might by a set. Unlikely though. We'll see.

EDH said...

In my day, we had the cheap encyclopedias you bought one-a-week at the supermarket.

And we liked it!

Freeman Hunt said...

A typo I don't think I've ever before made: by for buy