It was started with the best intentions but it's become something that exemplifies everything worst about record shop culture - exclusivity, oneupmanship, fetishising product, 'collecting records' rather than loving music - and ignores all the best things - the joy of discovering something new and unexpected and brilliant, the chance to share and discuss music with the like-minded.
I'm all for the joy of buying and owning physical product. I cherish records I bought because I loved them which incidentally turned out to be rare and sought after. The idea of producing records which are deliberately 'rare' is just stupid and pointless though. It commodifies the product and the music (which hardly anyone gets to hear) becomes irrelevant. The whole thing just becomes a mechanism for people to make money on eBay. You might as well be buying just about anything for the connection it has with the actual music.
Take that new Gil Scott Heron record. GSH's music has meant masses to me for years. I would love to hear that music and I would love to own the record (note the order I put those two things in). If I want to I've got to pay over £100 to some tool on eBay. What possible connection has that got to the intentions of anyone involved in creating that music?
I didn't go anywhere near a record shop this year as every previous year has been nothing but annoyance and disappointment. It's time for a new idea.