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Instant: The Story of Polaroid Hardcover – September 26, 2012
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"Offers up a concise and in-depth cultural history of Polaroid and its brilliant and charismatic leader, Edwin Land. Amidst its carefully constructed narrative of Polaroid's rise, demise, and renaissance.... Land and Polaroid's story are remarkable." --Publishers Weekly, 9/3/2012
"A fascinating tale of rapid rise, catastrophic collapse, and the riveting ride between the two, at once told like never before and strangely familiar in its allegorical quality... brimming with lessons for modern tech mavericks." -- Brain Pickings
"When I was little, long before personal computers, let alone Instagram-enabled digital camera-phones, Arthur C. Clarke wrote that advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. By far the most uncanny, sexy, insanely great piece of technological magic in our household was my parents' Polaroid. Chris Bonanos' smart, thoughtful, charming chronicle of that iconic invention and its remarkable inventor is a delight." -- Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and Heyday, host of public radio's Studio 360
"This cultural history of the eccentric camera company-which has fair claim to being the Apple of the '60s-is simultaneously breezy and deeply researched, making it the perfect compulsive reading for design enthusiasts and Instagram addicts alike." -- Details.com
"Tells the story of the forgotten genius who turned Polaroid into a cultural phenomenon." -- Washington Post
"Reading Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos rekindled memories of Polaroid cameras for me. And I think it will do the same for legions of others who were also mesmerized back in the day by this cool gizmo, one of America's greatest inventions." -- San Jose Mercury News
"Instant: The Story of Polaroid clocks in at a slim 192 pages, but it manages to be three books in one: a thoroughly charming, fact-filled stroll through the life and times of Edwin Land and the incredible company he built; a brief, poignant recap of Polaroid's plunge from the heights into not one but two wrenching bankruptcies; and a small but lovely collection of Polaroid images taken by well-known artists. Christopher Bonanos's well-researched and well-written book features a terrific Andy Warhol photo of Liza Minnelli, self-portraits by Chuck Close and Robert Mapplethorpe, and a David Hockney collage, along with photos by Walker Evans, Andre Kertesz, and William Wegman. It also includes several photos by Ansel Adams, who signed on as a $100-a-month Polaroid consultant in 1949, when the company made its first move into photography." -- Fortune.com
"Edwin Land was one of Steve Jobs's first heroes, and this book shows why. He created a startup in a garage that grew into a company that stood at the intersection of creativity and technology. This is a fascinating saga, both inspiring and cautionary, about innovation and visionary leadership." -- Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
"Christopher Bonanos tells Polaroid's story with fluid, energetic prose that mirrors the thrilling arc of the company's story, twining together technology, fine art, business, design and pop culture into a 175-page powerhouse. Whether you pick it up because you loved your old Polaroid camera or because you want to find out why Steve Jobs modeled Apple after the Polaroid company, you'll be delighted by this pithy snapshot of a true American icon." -- NPR.org
"A sympathetic and beautifully told history of Polaroid and Edwin Land, the visionary who was the company's founder and presiding genius. It is the rare design-subject book with a truly dramatic arc, and storytelling that lives up to it." -- Design Observer
From the Author
INSTANT: THE STORY OF POLAROID is a book about a very unusual company. In the 1960s and 1970s, Polaroid was what Apple is today: the coolest technology company on earth, the one with irresistible products, the one whose stock kept climbing way past the point of logic. In its heyday, Polaroid was an absolute innovation machine--a scientific think tank that periodically kicked out a fantastically profitable, covetable product. In fact, the late Steve Jobs expressly said that he modeled his company to a great extent after Polaroid.
Instant is a business story, about what happens when a company loses its innovative spark. It is a fine-arts story, showcasing the amazing things photographers (from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol to Chuck Close) did with Polaroid film. It is a technology story, of a company that created and maintained a niche all its own for 60 years. And it is a pop-culture history, of a friendly product that millions of people absolutely adored. I like to think that it also tells a larger story, about the rise and fall of American invention and manufacturing.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the years after 1980, I paid less attention to the company (except when the corporate takeover goons took away my mother's pension and health benefits) and the book brought me up to date nicely. I think the recent parts of the story are missing from the other books about Polaroid.
The book also offers many full-color photo reproductions and impressive illustrations. Whoever art-directed the book gets a high-five from me. It's beautiful.
Folks who like to read about Steve Jobs and crazy CEO-types need to get on the Edwin Land bus. That guy was the OG super controlling genius boss.
My biggest disappointment is this: the photos of Polaroid products and their packaging--or rather, the lack thereof.
The author tells us how important the design aesthetic was at Polaroid but includes only about SEVEN pics of cameras out of the entire line of products & packaging! Products are mentioned, but never shown, such as the large format cameras, we get one head-on view of the Polavision movie camera, no shots of the later models or the brightly colored packaging that was their signature. (I guess I'll have to pick up Paul Giambarba's "The Branding of Polaroid" for that). The majority of photos are samples of the artistic use of Polaroids (nice, but a bit repetitive) and too many shots of celebrities (few of which were of any interest to me). I would rather have seen more pics of the great minds behind Polaroid's innovations--especially since in terms of their hiring practices, they were ahead of their time, and many of those scientific minds belonged to women. Lets' see who these people were! I found myself constantly turning to the internet (and the author's blog) to find photos & more info about the the subjects in the book.
This book is good enough for the publisher to revisit the layout: considering the careful thought that went in to the dust jacket, colors, etc. of this hardcover edition, I would love to see them print a larger softback edition with more photos of the items & people which are actually the subject matter of the text--I think they'd have a real winner on their hands.
The pictures are very well done. For reasons I don't understand, Kindle books often seem to have low-resolution pictures, or pictures with technical problems. These don't. And, almost magically, the color pictures actually seem to capture the _look_ of Polaroid color.