The Wall Street Journal recently reported (subscription required) on Texas 8-track collector James "Bucks" Burnett's plans to open an 8-track museum to display his collection of tapes. Burnett recently held a well-attended gallery show for his collection, and promoters in Denton, Texas offered to spend $4,000 to put on a one-month show for his collection -- starting today. The collection will be displayed in a former lingerie factory.
There are a few 8-tracks worth a pile of money. According to the Journal, "A quadraphonic eight track tribute album to the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin recently fetched $152." Bids on a rare Monkees 8-track have currently reached $44 on eBay -- with four days left. And a collection of 24 Beatles 8-tracks recently fetched more than $350 on eBay.
Should you run down to the basement and dust off your collection or, better yet, start accumulating 8-tracks at flea markets for 25 cents each? Probably not. A few 8-tracks are worth hundreds of dollars, but the vast majority are utterly worthless. You can't give them away.
The rarest of rare 8-tracks are worth a tiny fraction of what rare record albums are worth. One rare Beatles album sold for $38,500 a few years ago, and there are thousands of records worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Are 8-tracks posed to make a comeback as collectibles?
I seriously doubt it, and here's why: they lack the aesthetic appeal of albums. Albums are fun to flip through. They look great framed and displayed on walls, and they're not bulky, so they can be sold easily. The covers are large and visually appealing. They're interesting in a way that 8-track tapes simply aren't.
The less attractive 8-tracks have never really caught on with collectors in any meaningful way, and probably never will.
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