Cassette tapes making a comeback

Seventy years ago this week, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play ‘The Mousetrap’ opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London, going on to become the longest continuously running play in history.
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A publishing phenomenon, Agatha Christie remains the highest selling fiction author in the world.

She has sold an estimated two to four billion books worldwide and they are still selling like hot cakes!

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Her stories have also been turned into successful films, TV series and audiobooks, like this one which popped up in the centre priced £3, among a good selection of others for shoppers to choose from.

An Agatha Christie audio book cassette tape on sale at the centreAn Agatha Christie audio book cassette tape on sale at the centre
An Agatha Christie audio book cassette tape on sale at the centre

I was surprised and pleased to learn from the stallholder that the world of cassette audio books is still going strong.

When a news article popped up a day or so later celebrating the resurgence of the audio cassette, it seemed like growing pile of evidence that Christie herself would expect me to investigate!

Replacing large and unwieldy reel-to-reel tape, the compact cassette tape was developed by Belgian company Philips in 1962, revolutionising music listening and home recording until finally losing the sales battle to CDs in 2001.

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However, with UK cassette sales steeply increasing again every year since 2019, the time may have arrived to dig out your old player! Reasons include nostalgia, hipster fashion, and the huge popularity of retro programmes.

Never slow to spot a trend, major artists capitalizing on the cassette trend, most of whom weren’t alive in its heyday, include Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Billie Eilish.

At the same time, there’s a growing appetite for genuinely retro audio cassettes.

More resistant to decay than digital media, if you discovered a box when hunting out your old JVC player, they’re probably perfectly playable, and, possibly, desirable.

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Rarities and oddities command the highest values, which for cassettes can include rare concert bootlegs, demo and promo tapes.

Just last month, Radiohead and Prince promo cassettes sold for £316 and £668 respectively. Now that’s a ‘reel to reel’ historic find!

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