Picture Discs of the World

picturediscsoftheworld
Format: book
Publisher: BIOdisc
Country: US
Dimensions: 8.5 X 11″
Year: 1990
Purchased at: Knuckleheads, Syracuse NY

 

Picture discs often get a bad rap, usually due to their purported inferior sound quality. But if you’re buying a picture disc primarily for the listening experience then you’re kind of missing the point…

I love picture discs. There’s just something about those vivid image-infused objects that, when sent spinning on a turntable, fill the soul with hypnotic joy. You’ll be seeing a lot of blog posts on them in the future as I slowly unearth them from my collection.

Although dated, ‘Picture Discs of the World’ is still an invaluable resource for information on this niche vinyl, exhaustively covering just about every disc known to man up until the book’s publication in 1990. Purely by chance I’m sure, the 1990 date is a perfect termination point for the first edition (there was never a second) as it documents the last fading moments of vinyl in the popular consciousness.

Picture discs were really prevalent in the late eighties, garish baroque expressions of a collapsing industry desperate to squeeze out a few more dollars from those loyal enough to still cling to the vinyl format. Although not the book’s primary focus, it’s immediately apparent that good portion of this flavor of vinyl hails from the decade where style often eclipsed substance. I have no problem with that.

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sample page

The book appears to be a ‘vanity’ publication, that is, it has all the earmarks of a publication that was put together and then farmed out for printing by a press that would print anything as long as you paid them in advance for the honor. What’s often lacking with books of this sort are the hand of a good editor and layout artist. The book idea may have been shopped around to the ‘legit’ publishers of the day, but being such a niche title, going the self-publication route was probably the only way this thing was going to see the light of day.

Evaluating the book from this perspective it’s clear that it’s a labor of love. Naive in many ways, such as the odd font choices and sizes, it nonetheless is a well-organized and extremely thorough. I find its dense presentation, littered with many photos (most black and white, but a few color plates thrown in), a very satisfying experience. It’s a tome you take your time with and explore.

Rather rare and pricey today (going for $50 and up on AbeBooks) it’s a must-have if you’re into pre-nineties record collecting

The table of contents are worth sharing:

  • Picture Discs, By Definition and Scope
  • A Goal toward Completeness
  • Laser-etched and Other Pseudo Picture Discs
  • Picture Discs Included
  • A Word on Record Numbers #
  • Conflicting Release Dates
  • How to Use and Misuse This Book
  • What about the Prices?
  • The Dollar versus the Yen versus the Pound
  • Condition & Value
  • Grading
  • The Value of Cut-Outs
  • The Pre-shaped, Pre-cut 12 Inch Record
  • Interview Picture discs
  • About Plinths, the Stand-up Displays
  • Bootlegs
  • One-of-a-Kind Oddities, Private Pressings
  • Alphabetical Listings
  • Chronological History of Picture Discs
  • List of Discographies
  • Coming in the Second Edition
  • General Listings (Microgroove)
  • Various Artists Section
  • Radio Station Promo (Compilations)
  • 78 RPM Section
  • Index (For General Listings)
  • Index (78 RPM for Section)
  • Photo Identification
  • Directory of Buyers/Sellers

 

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