Paul From Minneapolis

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Digress

I was writing and stumbled on a reason to make reference to John Speake, the man sent to find Sir Richard Burton, African Explorer, who was off searching for the source of the Nile but had been gone so long that people were beginning to wonder.

Naturally I wanted to beef things up web-style, using a link to explain Speake.

I couldn’t find one. I found oblique references, but no page that simply explained him. I was surprised. I mean after all, the guy was a main character in a PBS docudrama. Yes, that's right. A PBS docudrama and the internet has nothing.

I went to Amazon. Surely there’s a biography? From the old days? No. Not that I could see.

A market failure, I would say.

I did find “Literature of Travel and Exploration,” edited by Jennifer Speake, available in hardcover for $495 (four hundred and ninety-five dollars) from Oxford University Press. Is she a great-great-granddaughter? I wonder. And might she consider a re-pricing strategy? The book’s never been customer-reviewed. I think that “speaks” for itself.

(Sir Richard Burton was a truly amazing guy of course. There are several Burton bios, like this one, reasonably-priced at $4.75. Is it any good? “A waste of paper,” says Dennis Todd of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. "Less than 1-100th as good as "Literature of Travel and Exploration." Okay, I added that. But evidently pricing isn’t all one should consider.)