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No invective, just observation

June 6 2007 at 7:34 AM
Rick Randall, HQ Coy 1CanPara (Reenacted) 

Response to Books, I Don't Need No Stinking Books!!


There HAS been a noticeable change in the "amiability" of this forum, in the few years I have been onboard. Much of it centered around new people who ask questions easily answered through books.

"Get the book" is ALWAYS good advise -- but it isn't always a reasonable action.

For example -- the guy who only has a couple of questions about specific items. Perhaps he just flat out doesn't see the POINT in buying a book to answer a few questions. He ISN'T planning on making this a long term hobby -- it may even be simply a passing fancy he has, with his curiosity piqued by a singular item he saw. Buying the reference may be ideal from an informational viewpoint, but it's asinine from a purchasing standpoint at that point.

Now, most of my reference books ARE NOT related to WWII Canadian uniforms, but the principles are the same. I have books in my reference library that cost $600 - $700 new. (Yes, I have a shelf of Jane's at home -- and more at work. I try to limit myself to ones connected to my work so I can at least get the bloody deduction on my taxes. But I started buying them for the same reason Jane started writing them -- wargaming. <grin>)

I have others that are out of print -- some for decades, a few for over a century. And no one is going to reprint them anytime soon. (My best hit was getting a copy of a firearms engineering reference that only did one printing in spring 1945. That one print run was sufficient to cover the demands of the industry -- although prices have shot up to stupid levels. And this is a book that isn't a "collectible" to 99% of the owners -- it's a working reference!)

Heck, some of my references are "collectibles" in their own right! But my wife and I have them as primary references, not as a collection -- even the 17th and 18th Century Books of Common Prayer were obtained as references (although we HANDLE them like an archival collection, they are "readers", not "lookers").

Very few of these are readily available in the local libraries or online. Yeah, my hometown main branch library had a good selection of Janes "Aircraft of the World" and "Fighting Ships" for most years (usually a few years old), but my current public library in Podunk, Virginia doesn;t. Nor have I ever located a copy of, say, Jane's "Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems" or "Electro-optic Systems" outside of a professional library -- and not even all of those. (My job involves these subjects, and my company specializes in them, and my personal copies are the only ones that aren't a decade old in the office. Even corporate efficiency didn't motivate a company purchase.)

If someone wants to know something brief from one of my books, I'm NOT going to just recommend they "buy the book" if I can just answer -- although I WILL tell them which books to find it in.

But even the very reasonable price of (to pull a random example out of thin air) Dorosh's "Dressed to Kill" is not enough to make it a "mandatory" purchase for a guy who just wants to know the proper wear of service chevrons, becuase he's curious and wants to badge up ONE uniform for whatever reason. (Having said that, if you're a WWII reenactor who does Canadian, buy the bloody book -- you'll thank me later!)

Let's just answer the question, and THEN tell them which book to buy if they want more. (If someone asks questions about 3/4 of the material in a $20 book, it's OK to tell them to just buy the book.)

But shutting down the discussion with a flat "Buy the book!" generally turns them away, and they leave with NEITHER book nor answer.

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