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Buy it while you can!

Posted by: Editor on 4/26/2011

image In 1999 we were in the midst of a road trip, traveling between Washington, D.C. and Mustoe, Virginia.  On the way we took a detour to College Park, Maryland to watch a lacrosse game.   Before the game we stopped at a random Borders (now, sadly, out of business) and picked up a paperback copy of “Pythons of the World: Volume I” by David and Tracy Barker for $35 dollars.  We recently scanned Amazon.com for another copy, and were not surprised to see a single new copy on sale for $709.08.  Hence the rationale for this warning…read on if interested!

If “Pythons of the World: Volume I” is what you’re after, and if you want it cheap, then we’re sorry to say you’re out of luck.  You’re going to have to pay top dollar to secure a copy.  That being said, and assuming you’re interested in Australian pythons, we think the price for admission is probably worth it – we’ve not found a better text on the subject.  It’s been a valuable resource for us in building and maintaining our collection of Australian pythons, and we’ve been picking up copies here and there whenever we find one at the right price.  If, however, we could go back to 1999, we would probably load up on as many copies as possible.  This brings us to the point of this blog post.

In 2006 David and Tracy Barker released “Pythons of the World, Volume II: Ball Pythons.”  In the Barker’s words, this book is “the most detailed and comprehensive book ever written about one species of snake.”  As far as we’re aware, we’ve not yet seen anything that contradicts this assertion.  This book is truly a monster!  It has it all – a detailed description of the biology, physiology, and natural history of the ball python,  information on setting up the perfect snake room and shipping reptiles, sophisticated step by step instructions on feeding, maintaining and breeding ball pythons, and extremely helpful details on genetics and ball python health.  In addition, the photographs are striking.  David Barker is known for his photography and this book does not disappoint.  While a lot has happened with ball python genetics since 2006, all the base morphs are here with wonderfully detailed descriptions.  Overall, a must read.

image If you don’t own it, you need to.  If you’re interested in successfully keeping, breeding, and ultimately selling ball pythons, this is as close to a “how to” manual as you can get.  We would not be surprised a decade hence to find copies of Pythons II few and far between and those copies that are available will likely be very expensive.  After all, between 1999 and 2011, the price of Pythons I compounded at 31.5% annually.  This compares quite favorably to the S&P 500, which only managed to return around 1% annualized over the same period!

As of today, five years after publication, you can still buy copies on the Barker’s website, www.vpi.com.    There are two editions, the main first edition for $75.00 and a limited edition for $250 (only 300 copies in the series).  As of last night, both were available.  At $75.00 this book is a steal.  We have no idea how many copies they issued in the first publication, but given the popularity of ball pythons today we imagine its only a matter of time before they sell out.  When they do, they will ultimately be very hard to find, so take advantage while you can. 

image We only have one complaint!  The captions under the photos are printed in a shade of ink that is too light and a little difficult to read.  On the one hand this forces you to analyze and appreciate the pictures that much more, but on the other we do sometimes feel that we are straining our eyes.  If the Barker’s read this post and ever plan to do a second edition (we think updated photos would eventually make such a project financially viable), our only request would be darker ink for the photo captions.  Other than that, this is one of the best snake books in its category that we’ve ever come across.  We may just buy another copy!    

 HVH

Categories: Books |
Tags: VPI | Books |
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