Small Arrow Josh Greenberg has given us a new way of viewing what we thought was a familiar story: the widespread adoption of the video cassette recorder in the home. Instead of just being about watching the Tonight Show the next morning, the device became the platform for collecting, archiving, sharing, and learning from a vast archive of film and video. The first video cassette recorders were promoted in the s as an extension of broadcast television technology—a time-shifting device, a way to tape TV shows. This was less a physical transformation than a change in perception, but one that relied on the very tangible construction of a network of social institutions to support this new marketplace for movies. In From Betamax to Blockbuster, Joshua Greenberg explains how the combination of neighborhood video stores and the VCR created a world in which movies became tangible consumer goods. The result was more than a new industry; by placing movies on cassette in the hands and control of consumers, video rental and sale led to a renegotiation of the boundary between medium and message, and ultimately a new relationship between audiences and movies.
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It looks to be well researched and written. I have a few memories of going to the little video store "in town" and renting videos. I remember when blockbuster moved in in the bigger towns nearby. We rarely rented them or watch them in a theater. It may have, had I not fallen asleep every few pages. Additionally, some really yucky rainy weather did not help entice me to continue to read this book.
I do urge you to check it out, read the official blurb and skim the introduction. I hate abandoning a book -- it is something that took someone considerable time, energy, and knowledge to put together. Instead, he focuses on the soft areas between the two: distributors and retailers. Put simply, it was the philosophies and actions of, first, distributors and then retailers that really established how we came to understand video and the VCR as technologies for watching movies rather than as time-shifting TV Excellent STS approach to the evolution of "movies on video.
Put simply, it was the philosophies and actions of, first, distributors and then retailers that really established how we came to understand video and the VCR as technologies for watching movies rather than as time-shifting TV devices. He includes interviews with consumers, distributors, and retailers throughout to provide color.
This is the sort of history of technology of which we need more. It comes across as overly academic at times and I think it would have been better with a little tweaking toward mass appeal.
Nonetheless there are lots of really good stories here about the hobbyists who started the videotape revolution, what motivated them and how home video morphed into the phenomenon we know today.
I think you will enjoy this book more if you have fond memories of early 80s video stores.
From Betamax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video
From Betamax to Blockbuster