There’s something satisfying about flipping through a paper catalog, but they don’t have to be old to be collectible.
When Amazon first released a printed catalog in the autumn of 2018, there were the inevitable comparisons to the old Sears and Roebuck Holiday Wish Books. Both allowed children to carefully search the offerings, mesmerized by the pictures and descriptions of the toys displayed among the hallowed pages. But the similarities ended there. At just 68 pages, Amazon’s catalog, A Holiday of Play, did not include any prices. There were, instead, instructions for utilizing the Amazon App to scan images and “SmileCodes” (i.e., QR codes) to access details, read reviews, explore related gifts, and to instantly make purchases.
Marketing research (see Two Sides, below) has suggested that a majority of people not only find it easier to shop from a printed catalog, but that they also buy more than planned. Which is probably why Amazon followed up with the 2019 Play Together edition, and 2020’s Joy Delivered.
This year’s edition, titled Ready, Set, Play, has been expanded to 90 pages and includes stickers, activities, and a lined page upon which a child can write their wish list. Amazon just recently mailed the catalog to a limited number of recipients, and it’s already showing up in online secondary markets, with prices ranging up to $20 (not including shipping) for completely intact specimens.
Amazon competitors Walmart and Target have been issuing their own holiday catalogs for some time – for example, a 2016 Walmart specimen will fetch up to $10, while Target’s 2011 issue can sell for up to $20 – but the greatest collector investments remain in names from the past: Toys R Us catalogs for up to $50+, Spiegel holiday books for up to $150+, and Montgomery Ward’s Christmas Catalog for up to $175+.
If you’d like to learn more about collectible holiday catalogs, check out these links, and
Amazon’s Toy Catalog Just Dropped – And It Shows Just How Much They Know About Us (Forbes) -Forbes’ article exposes targeted marketing.
Catalogs & Wishbooks (MuseTechnical) – There are 247 scanned copies available for your perusal!
Catalogue Model – Amazon release their first ever printed catalogue (Two Sides) – A perspective from the United Kingdom.
The New 2021 Amazon Toy Catalog Has Started to Arrive (Quicksilver Agency) – Includes 2019 and 2020 catalogs.
Vintage Christmas Catalogs (Collectors Weekly) – Great introduction to the field.