The Best Books About Film

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Gregory
Posts: 5309
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#826 Post by Gregory » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:32 pm

YnEoS wrote:I really want to get Stephen Teo's The Asian Cinema Experience: Styles, Spaces, Theory but the cheapest its going for now is $126. It was just released in October last year, so I was wondering if anyone knows if expensive hardcover film books usually get paperback or e-book releases after a year or two these days.

Additionally if anyone has read this book I'd love to hear any opinions on it.
Often an expensive hardcover will be followed by a less expensive paperback, but it depends on the publisher.
This is Routledge, a publisher that will occasionally put out reasonably priced paperbacks along with the expensive hardcover if they think a book might sell to a general audience. For many of their books, however, they follow the academic press model of pricing them at $100-200 per volume, but university libraries have to purchase them—potential textbook orders and the niche-audience book-buying public be damned. Sometimes another publisher is able to arrange with Routledge to do their own trade paperback edition of one of their expensive hardcovers, but I only know of a couple of cases of that off the top of my head. I worked on one of these: a $20 updated paperback edition of a typo-riddled Routledge hardcover that was $156. Then, six years after the hardcover come out, Routledge put out their own paperback for $50.

There is already an e-book available of the Teo book you're interested in, but it's the same price as the hardcover ($145). This whole model of academic publishing is absurd, but at the same time it's understandable, considering the way academic publishing over-publishes on the whole, putting out an avalanche of books every year for which there are few readers. The authors get few if any royalties, and most potentially interested readers will have no opportunity to read the book the author has labored over, but academics need to get published, so they have little choice but to go along with this.

User avatar
Niale
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:27 am

Re: The Best Books About Film

#827 Post by Niale » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:46 pm

Pudovkin on film teqnuqie is pretty fun. He recounts using sparks and rushing water, to "create" an explosion in editing, that he claims rivals a real explosion he staged and filmed. Mostly its just an amusing book, not practical by any means. One other bit of fascination, he will reference films that he believes to be a great example of this and that... And many times the movie he is referencing is lost to us today.

User avatar
YnEoS
Posts: 440
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am

Re: The Best Books About Film

#828 Post by YnEoS » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:55 am

Gregory wrote:
YnEoS wrote:I really want to get Stephen Teo's The Asian Cinema Experience: Styles, Spaces, Theory but the cheapest its going for now is $126. It was just released in October last year, so I was wondering if anyone knows if expensive hardcover film books usually get paperback or e-book releases after a year or two these days.

Additionally if anyone has read this book I'd love to hear any opinions on it.
Often an expensive hardcover will be followed by a less expensive paperback, but it depends on the publisher.
This is Routledge, a publisher that will occasionally put out reasonably priced paperbacks along with the expensive hardcover if they think a book might sell to a general audience. For many of their books, however, they follow the academic press model of pricing them at $100-200 per volume, but university libraries have to purchase them—potential textbook orders and the niche-audience book-buying public be damned. Sometimes another publisher is able to arrange with Routledge to do their own trade paperback edition of one of their expensive hardcovers, but I only know of a couple of cases of that off the top of my head. I worked on one of these: a $20 updated paperback edition of a typo-riddled Routledge hardcover that was $156. Then, six years after the hardcover come out, Routledge put out their own paperback for $50.

There is already an e-book available of the Teo book you're interested in, but it's the same price as the hardcover ($145). This whole model of academic publishing is absurd, but at the same time it's understandable, considering the way academic publishing over-publishes on the whole, putting out an avalanche of books every year for which there are few readers. The authors get few if any royalties, and most potentially interested readers will have no opportunity to read the book the author has labored over, but academics need to get published, so they have little choice but to go along with this.
Thanks, very informative and helpful post!

I guess I'll wait around a bit and see if any used copies go up for cheaper.

arh66
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:33 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: The Best Books About Film

#829 Post by arh66 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:08 pm

Most academic books released in hardback first are aimed purely at libraries, and the paperbacks tend to come out after 18-24 months as the publishers know that the library sales will have tapered off by that point - the ebooks are initially priced for libraries as well but usually a cheaper 'paperback' ebook will also be released at some point, for individuals. There is little likelihood of this model changing, given the low sales of most academic books and the drop in library budgets over the past decade, but such books are at least being published still. The Open Access model may change all this, of course.

The 'overpublishing' mentioned in the post above is because otherwise there would not be a viable revenue model in most cases as the sales per book have dropped by around 40-50% over the last decade or so - this also means more academics get their work published of course.
Last edited by arh66 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14117
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#830 Post by knives » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:48 am

Has there ever been a (good) book written on Robert Rossen?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 29048
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#831 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:20 am

No, which is why I almost wrote my thesis on him. There was a pamphlet study of his films released in the sixties which I recall being of little use when I received it via ILL many moons ago, but that's it

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 6302
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#832 Post by Matt » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:38 pm

There's a Spanish book published in 2009, Robert Rossen: su obra y su tiempo.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14117
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#833 Post by knives » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:38 pm

Thanks to you both. Hopefully my spanish is good enough for that book.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 29048
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#834 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:43 pm

Be sure to report back on its merits! My prelim bibliography and Xeroxed article stack is still in a box somewhere in Oklahoma, but if there was anything in particular you were searching for, I may still have some of the sources on my laptop

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14117
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#835 Post by knives » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:46 pm

I was actually making sure I don't repeat anyone as I test out something really only incidental to Rossen (though I do hope it works as a promotion of him too).

User avatar
Gregory
Posts: 5309
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#836 Post by Gregory » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:14 pm

arh66 wrote:The 'overpublishing' mentioned in the post above is because otherwise there would not be a viable revenue model in most cases as the sales per book have dropped by around 40-50% over the last decade or so - this also means more academics get their work published of course.
In my opinion, academic book publishing on the whole already lacks a viable revenue model based on number of books sold. The growing tendency of academic presses to publish too many books comes from the "publish or perish" model. Tenure committees require scholars to add to the avalanche of books, often under the very faulty notion that a dissertation is there to be turned into a book. That's the working assumption for many disciplines in the United States, anyway, but I believe this may be different in many other countries.
Presses like Routledge keep up with this quantity, sometimes even maintaining quotas for all kinds of subfields and publishing works that do not really fill a need for readers or meet any existing demand. It's not really assumed by anyone that the books will actually sell or be accessible to readers (and so no pressing reason to put out an affordable e-book). In the past, I haven't even been able to get my university library to order a recent book I wanted to read from one of the major presses. The explanation is, well, there's one library in the U.S. that has it already, so just get it through ILL. So many books I've looked up in WorldCat have been purchased by so few libraries I could count them on one hand.
All of this bothers me so much because it's the opposite of what I believe publishing should be about: serving readers (even those in a small niche market); getting ideas and knowledge out into the world; and publishing books because they're solid, you believe in them, and care about trying to work with an author to build a readership, however niche it may be. And it goes against what academia ought to be, i.e., not an ivory tower in which people lacking institutional connections lack access to knowledge and information created to some extent through public funding. I realize that these ideals have little to do with how academic publishing actually works. Fortunately, though, there are many academic presses that put out somewhat "affordable" paperbacks (say, less than $40), if for no other reason than the hope of to get a few sales through textbook orders.

User avatar
filmyfan
Posts: 93
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 9:50 am

Re: The Best Books About Film

#837 Post by filmyfan » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:08 pm

Does anyone have any top tips on the "Universal" Horror of the 1930's-40's-although not exclusively about Universal-there are a few on Universal only but I would like a good one that covers everything ?


Thanks !

User avatar
Gregory
Posts: 5309
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#838 Post by Gregory » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:44 pm

It might depend on what kind of writing you're seeking, but an excellent work of film criticism that covers that era is Reynold Humphries, The Hollywood Horror Film 1931-1941: Madness in a Social Landscape. Keen insights, good writing, and it covers not only Universal in the period but several each from MGM, Paramount, Warner, Columbia, etc.

User avatar
Jean-Luc Garbo
Posts: 2637
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: The Best Books About Film

#839 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:41 pm

David J. Skal's The Monster Show?

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 6302
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#840 Post by Matt » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:07 pm

Skal's book on Dracula is excellent, but I thought The Monster Show to be a shallow work of cultural studies, making a lot of specious claims and sweeping generalizations.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Posts: 5931
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#841 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:04 pm

I'm working my way through Robin Wood's Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan, and while this may be old news, it's really excellent- the kind of theory where as soon as he brings up a framework or a way of reading some particular film, I can immediately think of three or four others that would fit the point he's making precisely, without ever being bland or vague or (to use his term) trivial. Obviously, I don't always agree with his views on any particular movie, but his book is strong enough that i don't particularly care, nor does it become unreadable in chapters about films I haven't seen. He manages to use a dense blend of Marxist, feminist, Freudian, and gay liberation theory freely without ever becoming bogged down in it or overly distant from the work he's actually trying to describe (apart from the prologue, maybe, but I can hardly blame him for that.)

Any suggestions for where I should go with Wood next?
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Gregory
Posts: 5309
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#842 Post by Gregory » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:39 pm

I have all of his books except the Apu Trilogy one and have gotten a great deal out of all of them.
The nearest relative to Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan and Beyond is Sexual Politics and Narrative Film, which is not at all as dry, "academic," or jargon-laden as its title may imply (no big surprise to those who have already read Wood). Personal Views contains many of his most influential essays which date from a period of upheaval and reorientation in his life and work. His writing was so personal that anyone reading his great Hitchcock's Films Revisited should be prepared to encounter a lengthy preface exploring events in his life that influenced the ways he has thought about Hitchcock's oeuvre, followed by not a revised text of his early book on Hitchcock but the original followed by a second "book" that contrasts the younger Wood's take on the subject with various more recent writings, which I found fascinating to read and compare. There was a recent new edition of his excellent Hawks monograph that used the same basic approach.

His early and influential book on Ingmar Bergman shows signs of his engagement with Bergman's films up to 1969 in a phase of Wood's life when his family life was breaking apart and he was beginning to understand and come to terms with his sexuality. That ordeal, and the way he emerged from it, had a lot to do with the way he approached Bergman's work at various times in his life. Wood died before the Bergman book could be revised à la the Hitchcock one, but it is nevertheless out in a new expanded edition that includes a few previously uncollected essays about Bergman films which date from various times in the '70s, '80s, '90s, and 2000.

But even though the personal and political thinking that informed his criticism matured late in life, I would say don't make the mistake of passing up the older books. Many of them have been out of print for decades but can still be found inexpensively on the internet. They're different from the later writing in some respects but still well worth reading.

And absolutely do not miss his BFI Film Classics volume on Rio Bravo. Like you've said, one may disagree with some of his points or find them insufficiently convincing, but it's still a wonderful essay. I find that the occasional dated or doctrinaire note can fall by the wayside, as they're made in the service of a much greater humanistic and personal approach to his subjects that have held up very well over the years.
Last edited by Gregory on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Posts: 5931
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#843 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:45 pm

Oh, good, I think I've already got Sexual Politics kicking around somewhere, so that'll be an easy leap. Already in this one I find his engagement with his critical past one of the most interesting elements- I always run into trouble with someone like Jonathan Rosenbaum, where his views change over the years but his writings seem to pop up achronologically, and you never know if he still holds an opinion you read in an older piece, and Wood does you the favor of contextualizing but not rewriting his original thoughts. The Hitch book sounds fascinating in that regard.

User avatar
Jean-Luc Garbo
Posts: 2637
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: The Best Books About Film

#844 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:10 pm

Wood's book on The Wings of the Dove is also excellent.

Zaki
Posts: 63
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:36 am

Re: The Best Books About Film

#845 Post by Zaki » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:10 am

Robin Wood's "Hitchcock's Films Revisited", "Sexual Politics", and "Hollywood from Vietnam" are currently 50% off.
Columbia University Press are having their Spring Sale on all of their titles (the code is "sale").

User avatar
Jean-Luc Garbo
Posts: 2637
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: The Best Books About Film

#846 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:56 am

Zaki beat me to the punch, but do check out that sale. They also have the two recent books on Assayas as well as the invaluable Peter Hames books on the Czech New Wave and Michel Chion's books on sound. I ordered during the last half off sale and it was good. Don't get the media mail shipping or whatever was cheapest, though. The books sent to me were in a clamshell and only one of five arrived in good shape.

User avatar
jindianajonz
Posts: 2036
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:11 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#847 Post by jindianajonz » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:32 pm

Anyone have any recommendations for an easy to read book on Jean Luc Godard, specifically his work up until Weekend? I've never "got" him and want to find something that's easy to read that can get me to appreciate him more.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14117
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#848 Post by knives » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:37 pm

Anything by Adrian Martin is worth a look. He breaks things down in a clear and concise manner being open to flaws in the works and having an infectious enthusiasm.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 29048
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Best Books About Film

#849 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:46 am

Morrey's Godard book in the French Film Directors series is a good primer

User avatar
The Fanciful Norwegian
Posts: 1641
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
Location: Teegeeack

Re: The Best Books About Film

#850 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:18 am

I see the BFI still has Richard Roud's book in print. It was written before books on Godard became a mini-cottage industry (in fact, it was supposedly the first book-length work on him in English), so it's not heavy on biographical details or outside sources--but it was my critical introduction to Godard and I imagine it's still useful for that purpose if you're only focused on the '60s films. I'm not familiar with the BFI version, but IIRC the 1970 edition (which is also readily available) stops around Le Gai savoir.

Post Reply