"Keep the thing going until we get more experience"—Edison's early media-by-mail service
TLS in pencil, signed “E.,” two pages, 8.5 x 11, January 20, 1923. Handwritten note at the head of a letter sent to him, in full: "Keep the thing going until we get more experience." The letter, regarding an unsuccessful mail-order record venture, in part: "Enclosed herewith are details as to the operation of the Home Service Clubs, Mail Order Plan in Morristown. I have lately made a very careful investigation of the reasons why this plan has not been a success so far. I have not made this investigation taking the data given to me but gone from house to house of 85 different people amongst homes where we have been circulating sets of records. Every one of the people I saw on the field had been properly sold by the salesmen as to the operation of the clubs, class of music they were to expect in these sets as also that we expected them to buy records in order to make this service something permanent…The average person in our clubs have been indifferent to our plans and have not appreciated our expense and effort although when they joined the clubs they claimed to be willing to cooperate with us…I have found out on the field, Mr. Edison, that the average person does not like to receive from the home of another person something that has been used or played by them. It is quite true that large Mail Order houses in the entire country do as a rule an enormous business. But don't you believe Mr. Edison that the nature of this business is completely different to our Mail Order Plan? When buying from mail order houses we know as a rule what we are going to get. It is a new article from the store. When our club members receive a set of records they don't know what they are going to get and besides this our records have gone after the first shift through the hands of different people." In fine condition. This fascinating letter outlines an early mail-order media business model, long preceding the popular BMG CD club of the 1990s and Netflix DVD-by-mail rentals of the early 2000s.
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