Thursday, January 17, 2008
As Seen on TV: 50 Amazing Products and the Commercials That Made Them Famous
By Lou Harry and Sam Stall, 2002, paperback
You should know
This summer, I went to a book fair at the library with a fellow blogger. One publisher at the book fair had a promotion where if you signed up for the mailing list, you got a free book, plus you were entered into a drawing for more and better books.
This was my free book.
Also, I have at different points in my life owned and used a Foreman Grill (essential), Oxy-Clean (great, just be careful), and a Chia Pet (unimpressive, though supposedly you can use them to grow edible sprouts and herbs...).
Warning: links play loud jingles.
Is Liquid Leather worth the money?1
The book is basically a catalogue of infomercial products, from the stupid (GLH Formula Number 9, page 42) to the benignly useless (Chia Pet page 88) to the near-essential (George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine, page 16). Some of them work almost too well (OxiClean, page 116), while others (AbTronic, page 54) don't work at all. We're also treated to an interview with Ron Popeil, a brief biography of Richard Simmons, a behind-the-scenes look at QVC, and a list of celebrities who have lent their names to various as-seen-on-TV products.
Each item is profiled with its current availabilty, pros, and cons, described, and then teased, using quotes and "unauthorized" uses (use the Buttoneer to apply a corsage, or the Pocket Fisherman to tease your cat). Essentially, it's a trivia book.
Read it... but don't pay full price.
I like trivia. I like books of trivia. But considering how short ths book is, and how much of it is photos and graphics, I just don't find it to be worth $16.95. Still, as a free book -- or a library book, or a book from the discount rack -- it's a fun read.
The rest of the Internet
Warning: some of these are NSFW
Ron Popeil's Wikipedia page.
Caveat emptor: you can buy all kinds of As seen on TV items.
Cracked.com lists the 10 most laughably misleading ads.
Matt Dinniman at Fireflies in the Cloud also pokes fun at as-seen-on-TV ads.
1Yes, but only if you know what you're doing.