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The Great Beanie Baby Bubble by Zac Bissonnette

December 11, 2017

Working in a library is a gift. There are no door-buster sales, no agitated customers (okay, maybe a few), and no Black Friday shenanigans. Instead of trampling over one another, our patrons wait patiently for the latest best sellers. Best of all, everything is free.

That freedom allows readers like you and me to explore books outside our comfort zone, like, say, a book about a 90s toy fad that baffled me at the time and breaks my heart today. Collecting Beanie Babies blew up at the end of the 1990s, a decade which saw speculator bubbles burst for baseball cards, comic books, and other collectibles. Some collectors failed to remember that fact when they invested in plush animals stuffed with plastic beads. Zac Bissonnette’s book gives us all the gory details--a coterie of suburban housewives armed with spreadsheets, a father-daughter team planning to turn their collection into a Beanie museum, and all the anonymous collectors who shelled out millions of dollars for ultimately worthless toys. It’s a lesson in supply and demand, naivete, and the American compulsion to try and buy our way into happiness.
Even more fascinating is the story of Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner. Before founding the company which bears his name, Warner was a star salesman at Dakin, a toymaker famous for its stuffed animals. Warner’s success eclipse all others in the plush field, but his personal life was a wreck, and his ultimate downfall is the book’s biggest surprise. 

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Jeremy Estes has worked for Nashville Public Library since 2008. He loves comic books and dislikes the term “graphic novels”. He hosts Panel Discussion, a comics book club for adults, on the first Wednesday of the month at 12pm at the Main Library.