Book Review: American Pickers – Guide to Picking

A good read: American Pickers Guide to Picking

This past Christmas, I received the American Pickers (yes, those guys) – Guide to Picking. In case you’re debating whether or not to spend the $24.99 to buy this book for yourself or another picker-friend, I thought I’d give you the run down.

Who Are Those Dudes?

In case you live under a rock or recently cancelled your cable service, you MUST know who the American Pickers are. This is the wildly popular TV show that airs on the History Channel about two dudes (Mike Wolfe and high school buddy Frank Fritz), a girl (Danielle Colby) and a white van that scours the U.S. for unwanted relics of time gone by. They hang out with farmers, hoarders, honky-tonks and hippies who have storage sheds filled to the brim with what they call “rusty gold.” They make somewhat reasonable offers on mostly odd and whacky treasures and bring them back to their shop in Iowa (Antique Archeology) or sell them directly to private collectors for top dollar.

Why Read the Book?

If you love the show, you’ll like (not love) the book. If you’re kind of familiar with a few episodes, then this book is for you. If you want to quit your day job, buy a van and become a “picker” tomorrow…you may want to wait and do more research. This book is not the pickin’ bible I thought it was going to be, but does offer a refresher on some good ol’ common sense when looking for a bargain.

What I Liked About the Book

Yes. Here is a quick look at some good advice from the Pickers team:

  1. Regional pickin’. They lightly touched on some great states for finding treasures, mostly the East Coast. I wish that they would have spend an entire chapter mapping out all the states, outlining what kind of treasures you can expect to find where.
  2. What kind of people you’ll meet while pickin’ and how to talk to each one of them. From widows or divorcees with leftover junk to farmers with great-grandpa’s collection of tractors, there’s a way to deal with each individual you meet.
  3. Pickers’s code of ethics. Like any profession, there’s a law of the land that most be obeyed. For example, if you know there is a guy who has been trying to get their hands on a particular collection, it’s best to walk away and not compete.
  4. Expert advice. There are 6 tiny interviews with the team’s favorite appraisers, each who specialize in a different genre of collectibles. There is some great insight in this section and I wished it had been longer.
  5. Insights and opinions. It’s interesting to read what Mike and Frank feel are the hot collectibles as well as get their opinion about how the web (ebay and craigslist specifically) has changed the picking game and what it means to pickers in the future.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book

This book is basically a second-hand recap (with some interviews from Mike and Frank) of the past two seasons of the show. If you are a hardcore fan (like myself and don’t miss an episode), than this book may not quench your pickin’ thirst. Other reasons why:

  1. I absolutely hated the photos that appear in the center of the book. It’s as if they hired a photographer for one afternoon to take some canned shots of Mike, Frank and Danielle posing in their shop or in a parking lot, unnaturally holding a few whacky objects. This book is about picking TREASURES! I wish they would have sprinkled a few photos of objects that the TV viewing audience may not have seen of what they feel are their highlights from their collection throughout the book. Overall, not enough photos for this gal.
  2. Where’s Danielle? There are only a few pages where Danielle offers some of her own advice and I wished that this section could have been elaborated on. You know damn well that girl has some really juicy stories!
  3. It’s a light read and touches on all the major points. I was hoping that the team would dig a little deeper and reflect more on some of the mega-picks that brought them some really killer goods. I’m sure that not every mega-pick makes it to the TV show. What are the stories that we haven’t seen or heard before? I guess we’ll never know…
  4. Picker Speak. This is a 2 and a half page section at the back of the book. This teaches you all the lingo that the weekend-warrior-picker needs to know, to try out at the local flea market. It’s a fun section of the book, but again, should have been more in-depth and placed at the front of the book or noted at the bottom of the pages so that the reader can get hip with Mike and Franks lingo as they read the book.

Overall, it’s a fun read for any vacation. I guess I should have known better to expect too much. You can’t expect a picker to give up all their best secrets!

Have you read this book?

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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