The View from Sherlock Peoria (339)
December 14, 2008
Paddling Up The Sherlockian Amazon
Back in the paper-and-ink days of Sherlockiana, I remember how much I enjoyed the Double-Barrelled Tiger Cubs annual list of Chrismas gifts for the Sherlockian, published in their newsletter, Afghanistanzas. The list was never too long, as there usually weren’t that many items commercially available. But now we live in the future, thirty years later than that now-historical period. These days, you just zap to Amazon.com on your hyper-linkage engine, and voila! A seemingly endless list of Sherlockian Christmas gifts appear!
It is no wonder that the age of the “Everything Collector” is over. The amount of things on sale having to do with Holmes is staggering.
Bargain deerstalker caps can be had for $3.99, and a plastic calabash pipe is only a dollar less. You can go for the full Holmes costume for anywhere from $27.99 to $89.99, unless of course, you’re going for the “Women’s Sexy Sherlock Holmes Costume” for $39.99. I’ve always found that outfit a bit disturbing, but if enough lovely ladies start showing up at Sherlockian functions wearing these things, I’m sure I will be able to adapt.
The array of Sherlock Holmes computer games always amazes and saddens me. As a devotee of the Macintosh, I’ll never get to explore the mysteries of “Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis” or “Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened,” as they are PC based. “The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes” does appear to be Mac-friendly, however, and it is the “first game officially licensed by the Conan Doyle Estate.” I would think it would be a best-seller, having gone for both the multi-platform market and the “look for the Doyle estate label” crowd . . . if either of those has a crowd.
Now that Amazon isn’t just about books any more, costumes and computer games are just the tip of the iceberg. If you pull down to a category called “Everything Else,” things get stranger still: Russian DVDs, Jeremy Brett memorial plates, cigarette cases featuring the 1946 movie poster from Dressed to Kill. Of course, if those items are too solid for you, you can also find plenty of Holmes items listed under MP3 or Kindle. Maybe I’m still clinging to the old ways, but getting a box of electrons for Christmas is still not up there on my list.
But even if you are old-fashioned and limit yourself to books, Amazon still has 26,740 items to offer. And that’s where it gets truly fightening. I remember a day when there were actually Sherlockian book collectors who tried to gather together every edition they could of the actual Doyle-written stories themselves. And how many of those 26, 740 books do you think fall into that category? More than any other, I’d imagine. Nobody is trying to find shelf space for that list!
But lets cut to the non-Doyle books, the pastiches. Even that number is pretty high, and c’mon! Would you want to read all those things? Now that anyone can self-publish more cheaply than ever with POD, and Amazon will actual list those printed by their own subsidiary . . . well, I’d like to say the pastiche quality has fallen, but lets be honest. Sherlockians have always self-published, and there are already some really bad pastiches out there. If I ever win the lotto, I’m still buying every single one of them. And when I do, I’m going to rate every one on a simple system. Instead of stars, I’ll use pages . . . basically the number of pages I get through before I put the book down, never to pick it up again.
Of course, that’s just a lotto fantasy. As it stands, the Amazon Sherlock Holmes list is way too long, even for making out a complete Christmas list. Of course, if any scion society like the good old Tiger Cubs would like to make a list up fo the rest of us . . . .
Your humble correspondent,