Last night I finished reading Amanda Petrusich’s, Do Not Sell At Any Price, a book about 78rpm collectors. I highly recommend this book to any who collects records. The book is packed full of stories about people finding 78s which kept me engaged throughout, understanding what the rush feels like when you find a needle in a haystack while record shopping.
Amanda does an excellent job of exuding her love for 78s and the music contained within. Her enthusiasm in explaining the music often led me to firing up streaming services in order to listen further. Several times I had to stop myself from buying CD box sets of reissued 78s that she mentioned in the book.
She also did a great job dissecting the collector’s mindset, especially for someone like me who loves to buy records. The second to last chapter explains the differences between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, how each pertains to record collectors and opened my eyes to behavioral traits to avoid while pursuing my own record collection.
Amanda also writes about curation and the role people assume in choosing what should be revered in the canon of forgotten music vs what should be simply tossed out. Who decides which artists should be praised and which should be forgotten? Spoiler: it’s often aged white men who are obsessive collectors.
I think about collecting and curation a lot in terms of my own record collection. Anyone can “collect” records and find themselves with way too many and never enough time to listen to them. I often look at my modestly sized collection and feel a little overwhelmed. But this is where curation comes in, forcing myself to weed out the albums I no longer listen to, sell them back to record stores and allowing others to find albums they can appreciate more than I do. It’s my own personal dance between collecting and curating that keeps it interesting.
Again, I highly suggest anyone who collects records to read this book!