Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The $3,000 Book

For a minute I thought I had stumbled into a Neiman-Marcus catalog, but no it was really the Barnes & Noble Holiday Catalog. So what the hell is a $3,000 book doing in there?

On page 22, across from a B&N published book, Intimacy, is a page devoted to a book entitled GOAT: A Tribute To Muhammed Ali. First mistake: although GOAT stands for "greatest of all time," GOAT is truly a stupid name for a book. Why not simply call it The Greatest. Second mistake: they should have devoted a two page spread to GOAT. Putting it across from a book selling for $19.95 is like putting up a luxury high rise next to a tenement. Continuing with our list of mistakes, the cover of this book, with GOAT in bright red on a white background is way too garish, even if it might be the colors of his gloves and trunks.

Okay, now for the unit cost. At 75 pounds (!), the book costs $40 a pound. With 3,000 images, the cost comes down to a buck a photo, and the 600,000 words comes out to a mere half cent a word. Shades of the pulps! Sure it's bound in leather and it's cradled in a silk covered box, but $3,000? I thought their Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot book would be a tough sell at $150, but what were the folks at Taschen thinking when they hatched this one?

Most amazing of all, is that the book is "limited" to 10,000 copies (!), and signed by Muhammed Ali and artist Jeff Koons. I can't even conceive of how a perfectly healthy person could sign 10,000 copies. Having Ali sign 10,000 copies must surely be cruel and unusual punishment no matter how much he got for it. A fight that went the distance couldn't be as taxing.

I should have quit while I was ahead, but I just paid a visit to the Taschen website. The lettering isn't red on white but is actually pink on white (the color of Ali's first Cadillac), and you only get that cover if you buy one of the first 1,000 copies which actually retail for $10,000! They come with a sculpture by Jeff Koons which I can only describe as a dolphin hovering over a stool which looks like it's encircled by a tire! Maybe I'd better get my eyes checked. As it turns out, if you can only afford one of the $3,000 editions (limited to 9,000 copies), the cover is the word GOAT superimposed over Ali's chest! If my feeble memory serves me correct, I think this was also printed by the Vatican's printer. Wow, my head is reeling. I feel like I'm being jabbed to death and can't get my gloves up. Check out the Taschen website but don't say I didn't warn you.

If I didn't know better, I'd think this was a gag.


Blogger Bill said...

A much more affordable Taschen book, and a must-have for Christmas, is Max Allan Collins' MEN'S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES.

6:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home