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on 27 September 2010
Written by a professor in popular culture, but do not expect a "scientific" study on record collectors as the title would suggest. If you are a record collector yourself there is almost nothing in this book that you didn't already know. For example there is a chapter on where collectors purchase their items: at record fairs, via ebay, at shops: REALLY ???? Then there is a rather boring description of formats that are collected: 7", 12", cassette, CDs etc. Only for someone from Mars this information is useful. Such semi-scientific summing up gets annoying once you reach chapter 2.
The conclusions of the book are mainly based on interviews with several non-famous collectors from around the globe. Whether these are representative of a broader group of collectors remains unexplored. The psychological reasons why people collect, are briefly mentioned and some hypotheses are given but none of these are verified or discarded. That is what one would expect regarding the author's academic status.
A considerable part of the book consists of transcripts of interviews with several collectors. This is pure page filler, as the reader yiels no information from this whatsoever. If I want to know about what and why people collect, I can ask any of my record collector friends. There is no need to put this in a book that will only be read by record collectors anyway.
The book is poorly edited and some passages are even completely duplicated (use CTRL-X next time instead of CTRL-C !). IMO this is unacceptable for someone who is working in an academic setting on this subject. Throughout the book Record Collector magazine and Goldmine magazine are described as if they are the ultimate publications on record collecting. The fact that internet forums and collector's discography websites have made these publications virtually redundant is not discussed, which is a missed opportunity.
Finally, the price of the book is ridiculous. I bought it because the title made me very curious, but GBP 50 for 200 pages without ANY illustrations is unjustifiable. Instead of buying this dry book without any humour, try Vinyl Junkies by Brett Milano or High Fidelity.
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on 18 February 2011
This book is primarily meant to be an academic work, the fact that it stands in the 'Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series' and the price that is charged tell the potential purchaser that much. However, I felt this was a highly accessible work that covered a wide and interesting range of topics, and am sure that most people who read publications such as Record Collector would find it a stimulating read. It looks at its subject from a variety of angles such as the historical, psychological and sociological, but manages to resist the temptation to go so deeply into one particular discipline that it loses the general reader. It's other great strength, for me, was the very clear structure and handling of the material, the reader is effortlessly led through from section to section. If there was a downside it would have to be the price, however, this is the going rate for a work such as this. If Amazon had a 10 star rating I would give it a 9, but as it is 5, 4 is just not enough and so I shall award it 5.
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