Saturday, May 21, 2016

My dumbest book purchase

Illustration of human skull;
I guess everyone has made a purchase that has regretted ever since. My case is nothing dramatic but it still stings. My purchase: Time Life's Mysteries of the Unknown.

This dates back to around 1992. There was a the school book fair and somehow the Time-Life folks managed to set sales appointment with my dad and I at our home. The representatives, two of them, managed to sell to us a way overpriced set for the list price of $100. Ouch. I don't know what got into my dad's head when he forked the money, but he rationalized the purchase by saying well we didn't have anything on these topics in our library.

Two aspects have stuck to me all these years. One is how one of the representatives slunk through my then weak defenses by stating that one of my friends, Solomon, had already bought a set. Never checked with Solomon, but I think that that the salesperson lied in stride. The other is that we didn't negotiate the price at all.

Oh, and it wasn't the complete set. What I got was just slightly more than half the volumes. From what I read on wikipedia, the whole collection was available  at the time.

The contents aren't all that good either. We already had some volumes of the Science Library, and probably assumed that Mysteries were on par. The artwork is fine and gives nice effects, but the text is boring and not really appealing. Most of the 'real life' cases are from England if I remember rightly. I think that the best volume was that on Transformations where vampires and werewolves are explored.

My incomplete set still sits there, mostly unread, but it taught me some lessons on money management, so I guess that the net effect was positive.

A more lively treatment of the paranormal and the occult can be enjoyed with the Hometown Tales podcast (one of the first!).  There have been no new episodes of late but, by the looks of it the complete archive is still available on iTunes.