Wisden – A Reassuringly Stable Presence in an Uncertain WorldWisden – A Reassuringly Stable Presence in an Uncertain WorldGiphy GIFGiphy GIF

Wisden – A Reassuringly Stable Presence in an Uncertain World

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has gone trad this year, moving away from recent shifts to covering the environment, racism and women in the game. The 161st Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack is published on 20 April.
Sales are expected to be around 30,000, which is remarkable for a book where all the statistics are already available online. So, as cricket changes rapidly, does the cricket fan change?
How to Be a Cricket Fan, A Life in 50 Artefacts from WG to Wisden is a new book (written by me), published by Pitch on 13 February. What Wisden Means to Me (2013) by Bill Furmedge includes dozens of tales on the titular topic.
One at random: “In 1994, while on holiday with my family in York, I bought an 1875 Wisden paperback for £15 from a local bookshop. Six months later my wife left me. Yes, 1994 was a good year.” My Dad paid £85 for a good 1882 some 40 years ago.
Auction site Wisden.org‘s Chris Ridler says: “The record sale was £2,240 at auction in 2008 , we have all the significant (and many not) prices on wisdens.org site but it is worth around £800 if a nice paperback (if a rebind without covers maybe £300).”
I asked a random bunch of associates what Wisden meant to them.
He thinks the features get better every year, though he claims to not remember Cricket and Gardening, an article from Wisden’s 2018’s environment section, probably because he’s trying to annoy the author (me).
Having an 1864 first edition is beyond most people. Sellers tell me the vast majority buying older Wisdens are buying out of habit. Surveys suggest three-quarters of articles remain unread.
One dealer tells me: “The market had never been more buoyant. They want that link with tradition, habit. They want to read articles about the past, so the 1960s and 70s are very popular.” There’s ...
...plenty of social history in those years, for instance EM Wellings’ snobbish reports on public school cricket and how schoolboys’ uncouth long hair had led to a decline in fielding standards.
Chris Ridler sums up on Wisden’s enduring popularity: “Many buy to collect it but plenty buy it to read it, it is a great gift for cricket fans and looks great on the shelf. New collectors appear regularly but alas older ones do pass away from time to time. Fifteen ...
...years ago, people said Wisden were dead thanks to the internet but it is still in existence and I am sure if we win the Ashes this year 2023 will sell out. People (not I) say it is a bit too political these days, but that is the only downside I have heard.”