Well, this is depressing. After leaving a dignified ‘cooling off’ period – i.e. the couple of weeks it took to fashion a collection of facsimile newspaper pages into a leather binding – before pounding off in pursuit of the Bowie memorial market, you’d like to think Historic Newspapers are simply following their trusted business template, albeit with an ever-so-slight post-mortem spin.
Normally this repository of vintage newsprint supplies wool-gathering folk with The Times from their date of birth, or bound pages chronicling the history of a favourite football club. What we have here is a combination of the pop fabulosity of their Beatles repro and the historic morbidity of their doubtless always popular ‘Titanic sinking’ souvenir edition.
And you know what? It really doesn’t work. First of all, rather than curating a broad sweep of selections from the tabloid, serious and specialist music press, they’ve only used pages from The Daily Mirror. Fine, if they’re paying tribute to Princess Diana, Robert Maxwell or Adele – punters they’ve always deferred to editorially, covered seriously and outwardly understood. But lest we forget, throughout the first decade of Bowie’s career, the then largely pop music-free Mirror mostly adopted a derisory tone on the rare occasions paper and artist’s paths crossed. Not the ideal tone for a tribute, then.
There are some nicely reproduced photos alongside the newsprint, granted, but much of the content is culled from The Mirror’s 60-pence worth of coverage from January 12, 2016, which would be fine if A Newspaper History wasn’t costing you £69.99 (a price that admittedly includes your name embossed on the front in gold for ‘free’).
Do yourself a favour: buy Paul Trynka’s Starman, send a tenner to Cancer Research and you’ll still be fifty quid up on the deal.