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Collection: Charlie Munger - #222 'Investment That I Like The Most'



We got a couple of questions left. This one comes from West Roddy in Miami, Florida and he says, "In your storied investor career, which investment did you like the most and why? And which one was a dog?"


Well, that’s fairly interesting. One of the investments that nobody ever talks about at Berkshire is the World Book Encyclopedia. I grew up on it. You know, they used to sell it door to door.

And that thing was, they had every word of the English language graded for comprehension and a vast amount of editorial input, so it was easy for a child who wasn’t necessarily a brilliant student to understand that encyclopedia. It was more understandable.

And Berkshire made $50 million a year pre-tax out of that business for years and years. I was always so proud of it because I grew up with it. It helped me and so forth. And, of course, I liked the 50 million a year.

And then a man named Bill Gates came along and he decided that they were going to give away a free encyclopedia with every damn bit of his personal computer software. Away went our $50 million a year. Now, we still sell the encyclopedias in libraries, making a few million per year doing that.

But most of the wealth just went away and all that wonderful constructive product. It’s still a marvelous product. And it wasn’t good that we lost what the World Book was doing for civilization. And I was so proud of World Book. But now it’s pretty much gone away in terms of its worldly significance and the money went with it.

That’s just the way capitalism works. It has destruction. And some of the things you lose, you’re really going to miss and you’re not going to replace them. I don’t think these TV programs that charm our children are as good as the World Book was. The World Book helped me to get ahead in life. For people who aren’t going to read the World Book and are hanging in front of the TV set, they’re not blessed, they’re cursed.

Now there are advantages too in them having a television.


And Charlie, a final question for you, this one comes from –


By the way, I’m not weeping any tears that I don’t have my World Book anymore. (Laughter)

I've adjusted. (Laughter)

I missed it but I – (Laughs)



[YAPSS Takeaway]

Capitalism is brutal.

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