Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

How Much Would You Pay for a Meade Catalog?

Well, how much? What's one of the Irvine, California Telescope Company's glossy uber-full-color-100-plus-page extravangazas worth to you? How about five bucks? Yep, Meade, whose new print catalog has been "in production" for at least a couple of years, proposes to sell you the new one for an Abraham Lincoln.

There's little doubt it's gonna be a nice catalog, sure. It's been the slickest pub of its kind amateur astronomy has ever seen (compare the earlier editions to the pitiful brochures Celestron used to hand out), and I know many folks have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it over the years. I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it over the years. No, I've never really used it to make buying decisions, but it's provided a tremendous amount of reading pleasure as I've browsed through it while sitting on the...on the—well, you get the picture.

Since a new Meade Wishbook was long overdue, I was excited to see it announced on the company's webpage the other evening. Yeah, I was surprised, when I read more closely, to find that: 1) Meade is taking "pre orders" for the catalog; it's not actually available yet, and 2), they want you to send 'em your credit card number for the privilege of looking over their newest toys (and, to be honest, the pretty astrophotography of many of your Meade-using brothers and sisters, something, maybe, that's enough to make you decide five smakers ain't so much).

Actually, I wasn't exactly dumbfounded by this. The last time I talked to a Meade rep, he'd mentioned that the new regime at the company was troubled by the expense of creating the next edition of the legendary Meade Monster Mash. All in all, I just wasn't offput by their abject begging for a fin—I've often wondered how they can afford to produce these things.

But would I really give 'em a fiver for this? Prob'ly; all things are relative. Hell, y'all oughta see my bar tab from last weekend. No, it's not the fin that troubles me; it's he image this scheme seems to present. Meade insiders have said the company's top management is aware of and concerned about the unfriendly image they have developed with some amateurs. OK. Good. But then this sell-the-catalog idea comes along and seems to say, "Send us your astrophotos, guys, and we'll be happy to put 'em in our advertisements and sell 'em back to you. Suckas!" Not very helpful to Meade given the current state of the telescope market, even if gleefully shaking us down is really not the intention.

Me? Yeah, I'm gonna send 'em my five bucks...it gets awful boring in the "reading room" without a new Meade Book, lemme tell ya.

Comments:
I have seen the new catalog and for the enthusiast it is worth the $5 admission price for the photography alone. For the new-to-the-hobby crowd--the ones who will benefit most from the new layout--the charge may prevent them from ordering it until they see it at their local dealer.

Regardless of the price this catalog is way overdue and is the best Meade has produced.
 
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