Every now and again I must turn my attention away from books and consider the other dainties we’ll be selling at the Second Annual 25th Anniversary Newberry Library Book Fair. Last week, for example, I took a day to sit and price videocassettes. As of the 2009 fair, at least, these were not a dead technology, though you never know which year will be the cut-off.
I would like to report the sociological observations I drew from this exercise, but I’m a little uneasy about it. I don’t know if there WERE any. This time around there were only a tiny number of exercise videos, usually a huge pile with everything from Richard Simmons to Cynthia Kereluk. (We almost never get Cynthia Kereluk, by the way; but whenever I mention her name, this blog gets 25% more hits.)
What I did find were four copies of The Empire Strikes Back (but only one each of the other movies in the Star Wars saga), three copies of the Megan Follows/Colleen Dewhurst Anne of Green Gables, and ET, and two copies each of Steel Magnolias, Only the Lonely, Small Soldiers, Return of the Pink Panther, The American President, and Pink Floyd Pulse. You tell ME what kind of trends we have here.
There were also a lot of multi-tape box sets, especially of PBS series: Ken Burns’s Civil War, Ken Burns’s Baseball, Poirot, Morse, etc. (And all the John Steed/Mrs. Peel seasons of The Avengers.) We had a video documentary on gastric bypass surgery–just the thing for rainy day viewing–and a goodly number of Public Television fund drive premiums, many unopened. (Thank goodness we don’t get all the mugs.) One of our donors is in the Industry; this is the third consecutive year that he or she has dropped off some of those limited edition videos, sent to reviewers or video rental places before the movie is officially available on tape, or sent to members of the Academy to enable them to vote properly at Oscar or Emmy time.
And for those of you (there are several) who decided to donate those Disney videos the kids got fifteen years ago and which were watched and watched and watched and kept in the toybox, and stacked over there while the kids built forts out of the cases, and which got Alpha-Bits spilled on them and then sat unviewed under the couch until enough dust had gathered so you couldn’t really even read the titles, I’d like to say a word to you.
But they don’t allow that word on this website, so I won’t.