eBooks or Collectible Wizard of Oz Books ?

How many of you listened to The Wizard of Oz eBook? Is it an anathema? Does the technology reach a point where people are not interested in reading and collecting books anymore?

A few days ago I learned that Borders are closing their doors forever, repeating a sad tale of both big book stores like Bibelot and hundreds of unnamed small bookshops. So in search of bargains I decided to check out the Borders’ going-out-of-business sale. The visit was not successful as far as the acquisitions were concerned, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people, including young people, standing in the cashier’s line actually buying books. I do not think I have ever seen Borders, or any other book store for that matter, that crowded with people who actually . . . wanted to read!

It made me think how far we have come from the times when the books were the main form of entertainment, and folks actually read books both for learning experience and for pleasure. If you think about it, go back to the time in which any of the Oz books were originally published.

When Oz books were originally released in the early 20th century, the books, in the absence of internet, television, iphones, ipods, and so forth and so on, were the only way young and old could be entertained at any time and at any place and without anyone else’s company. People could actually not only follow the adventures of Dorothy and her friends, but also read other books’ series that L. Frank Baum wrote under the pseudo names such as Jane Aunt series for girls and Fortune Hunters for boys. The books allowed children and adults to be transformed into another world, to get out of their current harsh life reality and instead experience a new world. Moreover, when some would get bored reading and re-reading the same books, many young readers would entertain themselves by even coloring them! Just take a look at some of examples of “artistry” that I found in Oz books.

Children book coloring Now think where we are today. Those of us who still like to read hard copies prefer something “light and easy,” rather than classics. The younger generation is too busy tweeting, texting, messaging, and posting on the Facebook walls, and the only way that they conceivably would read a book is if it is downloaded on ipod, comes in the form of kindle or nook, or in some other eBook format.

So does the technology ruin us as the readers of books in a traditional sense? Does the existence of Netflix, Xbox, FIOS, Xfinity, and many others will forever take us away from the wonderful world of books that we treasured for all these years?

I submit to you that nothing is lost; rather, it is different, and all these new and at times scary gadgets and methods of communications have brought enormous benefits to the wonderful world of reading and the Wizard of Oz books in particular.

One of the new ways that many readers are beginning to enjoy Oz books in 3D is through the universal application on the iphones.

Those of you who follow the Wall Street undoubtedly are aware of the phenomenal success of Apple which, according to their latest quarterly reports, sold over 10 million ipads and 20 million iphones. We are only in the first stages of app development for books. Please see this two-minute-video on Youtube of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 3D

I am also pleased at the way Youtube has been serving as a useful learning tool for many young Oz enthusiasts. I get on the ongoing basis emails and invitations to chat from many young Oz collectors-to-be. For example, this is the e-mail that I received the other day from a high school Oz enthusiast:

“Hello,I am an avid collector of Wizard of Oz memorabilia, mainly belonging to the 1939 film, but have had a grown interest in extending my collection to its literary namesake. I am currently only 18 years old, so while the high cost of the books listed on your site may be out of my range, I am asking for any advice you can give on obtaining a first edition print of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I already own about 15 distinct prints of the work, but am of course interested in obtaining the mecca of the franchise. Your knowledge and expertise in the area of Oz books would be of the utmost help in my quest to obtain my own copy of the novel, and any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.”

Many of my young Oz friends are already familiar with the points of identification of first edition Oz books. When I asked one of them if he had any reference materials for Oz books, he replied that he did not, but that he learned about it from free videos that I placed on Youtube in which I explain and visually indicate some points.

Out of curiosity, I checked the number of people who viewed the video that I placed which covers the first edition of Wonderful Wizard of Oz and was pleasantly surprised to learn that 5,385 people viewed this video for the past 2 years.

In addition, I checked the video that I have done the intent of which was to introduce folks to all 40 Oz books. Again, I was happy to see that it was viewed by over 15,300 viewers in the last 2 years!

Facebook is another phenomenon that enables groups of people with same or similar interests to share information, and Oz groups are no exceptions. While in the past most Oz - related communications were done through the International Wizard of Oz forum, these days I get daily messages from different Oz groups where people share their Oz collections, ask for opinions or share interesting Oz findings. For example, I am a member of the following Facebook group:

• Wizard of Oz Collectors United
• The Everything Oz Club; and
• Land of Oz- Beech Mountain

Through these groups I have had a chance to learn about Oz collectors and even see the images of artwork from the Emerald City of Oz that is in possession of the International Wizard of Oz Club

Original painting for Wizard of Oz

Lastly, I have to comment about the TV, the word that evokes groans from virtually every parent. And yet lately, there are more and more TV programs that can be enjoyed by both young and old collectors. Up until recently the main collectors-oriented program was the Antique Road Show (I was reading an article that Lady Gaga being 25 years old recently got Lady GaGa is obsessed with it)

Lady Gaga Wizard of Oz

However, now we all enjoy watching such weekly shows as "Pawn Stars" and "American Pickers" that inspire many new collectors and provide interesting historical tidbits about various items that they encounter in their day-to-day business.

In conclusion, on a personal note: some of my Oz memorabilia is currently on display at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC while there they have sold out performances of “Wicked.” I am also planning a trip to the Poconos to meet the "Pawn Stars" group gang to gauge their reaction to original Wizard of Oz books and hope to convince them to produce a segment during their show that can open eyes to many collectors about hidden treasures known as Oz books. As many of you know, I do this for the sole purpose of educating and enriching people’s lives, because contrary to the fears of many, we are still reading and we still love books.