Lamenting the Big Book's Demise

As a kid, one of the coolest things about the holiday season was opening a "big book" from Sears or J.C. Penney's to see the selection of products the whole family could circle and add to their Christmas list. For the kids, it ended up being hundreds of pages of nothing until we'd find that magical section near the back of the book, nestled in between the electronics and power tools -- that mystical, whimsical section of the latest popular toys.

We never saw these toys when Mom would drag us to Penney's to update her wardrobe, but there they were in that magical catalog -- a mirage of fun in between the pages of ladies fashion. So it's with great pain and tremendous regret we must inform you that this magical experience can never be shared with our offspring -- the last "big book," by Plano-based J.C. Penney, will be released this year.

Frankly, we're not surprised. As Internet sales continue to grow and retailers moving to target their marketing material more specifically, the idea of the "big book" is pretty darn outdated. Now, kids looking for items to add on Santa's list could use Amazon's wish list features to e-mail him a copy. J.C. Penney's still plans to publish a Christmas specific catalog as well others just targeting women's and men's apparel, but the twice-yearly monsters of our childhood will be elminated -- to cut the company paper use by up to 30% in 2010.

We understand waxing nostalgic about a telephone book sized anachronism of consumer consumption is pretty silly, but we have to believe we're not the only people out there that remember the wonder and magic of swiping the "big book," finding a hiding spot, and cultivating that perfect Christmas list. Feel free to join our lament in the comment fields.

 Greg Janda writes for and truly misses his collection of G.I. Joes.

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