When I was young I spent a lot of time perusing books at car boot sales. One book which always leapt out at me was Peter Benchley's JAWS, with its distinctive spine (white with the logo in black, as above). Sometimes it seemed as though every stall had a copy of Jaws - only 'Star Wars' and 'Dallas' came anywhere near its ubiquity. Clearly, everyone who was anyone had bought a copy in 1975; now, these same people couldn't wait to get it out of the house. I remember thinking that it would be 'a laugh' to buy every copy I came across (why I don't know). At the time, though, the idea alone was enough to cheer me up, and I didn't for a moment consider actually putting my plan into action.
Years later, when I became a student, finding wacky things to do was a pressing concern. I was reminded of my idea on noticing that there seemed to be a copy of Jaws in every charity shop in town. One fateful day in 1993, I decided to go for it.
My Diary - March 25th 1993
"I have at last decided to fulfil my great ambition to buy every copy of Jaws I see, and put them on a shelf together. This shelf will form a modernist / postmodernist (take your pick) work of art, proferring a profound comment on the state of society, 1975 - 1993. I am sticking to those of 20p or less."
The collection was built up slowly by surely, and proudly displayed in a 'trophy cabinet' of chucklesome artefacts in our student house. Friends were encouraged to help with the search. On returning to the real world, I found I couldn't give up my hobby. I abandoned the self-imposed 20p limit, as new milestones presented themselves - 25, 50, 100. Currently I feel that nothing short of owning every copy of Jaws ever printed will suffice.
- Eventually, the supply of Jaws in the local area began to thin out. I started to wonder if perhaps I had imagined the whole thing - that the book's distinctive design had fooled me into overestimating its proliferation. Luckily, support was at hand, in the shape of music and lifestyle magazine Select. In December 1996, their feature 'Ker-ching! - a guide to getting shot of your dosh' was devoted to charity shops. Five shops in East Sussex were inspected, and rated under various categories, including 'What did it smell of?', 'Can you buy a kitschy record?', 'Most useless thing', and, wonderfully, 'Has it got Jaws?'! Vindication at last! Since then there's been no stopping me.
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