Do Not Sell At Any Price

The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records

Do Not Sell At Any Price

The untold story of a quirky and important subculture: The world of 78rpm records and the insular community that celebrates them—by acclaimed music critic and author Amanda Petrusich, who contributes regularly to Pitchfork, The Oxford American, and The New York Times.

Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on 78rpm records—those fragile, 10-inch shellac discs. While vinyl records have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, good 78s are exponentially harder to come by and play. A recent eBay auction for the only known copy of a particular record topped out at $37,100. Do Not Sell at Any Price explores the rarified world of the 78rpm record—from the format’s heyday to its near extinction—and how collectors and archivists are working frantically to preserve the music before it’s lost forever.

Through fascinating historical research and beguiling visits with the most prominent 78 preservers, Amanda Petrusich offers both a singular glimpse of the world of 78 collecting and the lost backwoods blues artists whose 78s from the 1920s and 1930s have yet to be found or heard by modern ears. We follow the author’s descent into the oddball fraternity of collectors—including adventures with Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, Pete Whelan, and more—who create and follow their own rules, vocabulary, and economics and explore the elemental genres of blues, folk, jazz, and gospel that gave seed to the rock, pop, country, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, Do Not Sell at Any Price is an untold, intriguing story of preservation, loss, obsession, art, and the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music.
  • Scribner | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451667059 | 
  • July 2014
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About the Author

Amanda Petrusich
Photograph by Bret Stetka

Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich is the author of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music and Pink Moon, an installment in Continuum/Bloomsbury’s acclaimed 33 1/3 series. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, Spin, and The Oxford American, where she is a contributing editor. In 2016, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine. She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Humanities and the MacDowell Colony. An assistant professor in the writing program at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she teaches advanced courses on criticism and musical subcultures. She lives in Brooklyn.

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