One of the most-often recommended books for marine fish breeders, Joyce D. Wilkerson’s book Clownfishes, suddenly seems to be a hot commodity. I often tell people to, “buy this book, because often times if the answers to your questions are in there, the experienced breeders online won’t bother to respond to your questions!” When I gave that same advice a couple weeks ago at the WAMAS Winter Meeting, someone said, ” I would buy that book, but I can’t find it for less than $100″. For a book that is paperback and probably didn’t cost me more than $20 or $30 when I got my copy, this response was very perplexing.
After researching a bit, it seems that the supply of this book has dried up. All of a sudden, even heavily used copies are going for more than brand new copies used to sell for (list price retail was $32.95). Now if you want it, for the last 7 days, the only copy listed as “new” on Amazon carried an asking price of $450.00! “Like new” can easily go for $200, and the highest asking price used is almost $1000! Microcosm, who first published the book, says that it is urging TFH, who have been printing and distributing the title, to get supplies back into the pipeline. Failing that, a Digital Edition will be produced.
I’m still not sure what I think about such an essential book suddenly being out of the budget for the very people who may most need it. After all, this book is the default, first and best book for the aspiring clownfish breeder – the conventional wisdom is to buy it and read cover-to-cover. It certainly is a testament to Wilkerson’s book that unlike many other out-of-print works, her’s isn’t selling for pennies on the dollar. Hopefully this spike in market price will encourage a new run or some alternate means of access for future breeders. Sure, someone could go write a new book, maybe with a bit more current information, but any new work will be strongly judged against a book which has been a fundamental text far longer than I’ve been breeding marine fish. Still, perhaps the time has come, almost 13 years after publication, for a new work?
For all the information you can find online, I have yet to find a suitable substitute for any good text on a given subject, and Wilkerson’s book is no exception. Quite simply, the labor that goes into authoring a text is daunting, and the reward is often times slim-to-none. Let this be a lesson than in the internet age, it’s still cumbersome to take your laptop into the bathroom, and color e-Readers are not exactly mainstream either. Next time you’re on the fence about buying a book, just pull the trigger – it’ll keep the aquarium authors and publishers in business and continue to ensure that valuable information gets solidified and preserved in print. Good luck reading the latest ReefBuilders update without internet. Just sayin’…