By JOHN E. BIALAS
It’s a potential boom time for third-party internet sellers of Dr. Seuss books, a theory I base on my Amazon.com research after I read a story at The New York Times website.
Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth A. Harris wrote the story, published on Thursday, 3-4-21, and the headline is Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts.
The Times story came two days after The Associated Press reported the following:
That’s the first paragraph of the story, and you can go right here if you would like to read the rest.
The day the story broke was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, also known as Read Across America Day, and the second day of schoolchildren celebrating Dr. Seuss Week.
The entertainment company that maintains his legacy marked the occasion with a message I saw on the Dr. Seuss Instagram.
The final three words of the message were omitted: “communities and families.” It’s amazing no one at Dr. Seuss Enterprises fixed that.
The Times reported that “the announcement seemed to drive a surge of support for Seuss classics. Dozens of his books shot to the top of Amazon’s print best-seller list; on Thursday morning, nine of the site’s top 10 best sellers were Seuss books.”
I went to Amazon to see that “The Cat in the Hat,” which remains in good graces, was No. 1 and retailed for $5.90, though you could get a used copy for $2.
If you want the original hardcover of “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” through an Amazon third-party seller, you will need to receive 10 or more stimulus checks to pay for it.
The most expensive copy of the book is listed at $10,000 and it’s in very good condition.
Oh, free shipping isn’t offered. You will have to pay $3.99 for delivery.
Just think of the places the seller will go if they get $10,000 plus $3.99.
Perhaps that person will create their own version of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” the last Dr. Seuss book. Published in 1990, it’s about life and its challenges. Imagine the challenge of trying to spend $10,000 plus $3.99. Oh, baby. Sign me up.
Would you pay $10,000 plus $3.99 for the original “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” that includes this illustration?
If you admire the art, you can stay right here and look at it for free or you can send me $10,000 plus $3.99.”
New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat, in a provocative piece Saturday, wrote that “a single problematic image seems to be enough to make an entire book disappear: One chopstick-wielding Chinese man in “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” apparently, means the first major work of an American master can’t be published anymore.”
The illustration doesn’t bother me. The cancel culture bothers me. It’s a 21st-century term for the practice of damning a person or a work that becomes objectionable, but the mindset has been around a long time.
Popular culture said good riddance in 1981 to the “Charlie Chan” Chinese detective films, including Number One Son and Number Two Son, and years before that, the Black TV sitcom “Amos ‘n’ Andy” got the gate. This meant that Kingfish, the series’ most popular character, was also persona non grata.
“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” is the very first Dr. Seuss children’s book, published in 1937, and the 60th-anniversary edition is going for $1,899.
“Mulberry Street” is also one of the six offenders that won’t be published anymore, a designation that has led to inflated prices since Tuesday.
I’ll use one word to describe all the prices I saw for the book, the cheapest listed at $225 (for the 1964 edition). The word is often heard in the Deep South: expansive.
You know what I mean. It’s like, “Damn, that picture book is mighty expansive. The places I could go for that amount.”
Featured image credit: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” cover, first edition, 1937, Amazon