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Instant: The Story of Polaroid Hardcover – September 26, 2012
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"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Tells the story of the forgotten genius who turned Polaroid into a cultural phenomenon." -- Washington Post
"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
"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
"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
From the Author
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.
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.
So in conclusion, 5 stars for the content, 1 star for the formatting.
Everyone except the very youngest among us fondly remember the pre-digital thrill of snapping a photo and seeing the results just seconds later. In a time when amateur photographers dropped their film cassette off at the nearest Foto Hut and waited a week for the prints to come back from the lab, Polaroid's instant print was rather magical.
Steve Jobs has often been compared to the father of instant film and co-founder of Polaroid, Edwin Land. They shared the common trait of being passionate visionaries who built a cult-like following of true believers who wanted to work for them. They ran companies that certainly wanted to make money, but that were first and foremost dedicated to the dream of their magical product. Both men were unshakable in their own self-confidence and their unwavering belief in the righteousness of their cause. Land, a fascinating character who has already inspired books covering his life in detail, gets less attention in "Instant" than one might want, but the nature of this book is to be brief. If you're interested in following up for more, you certainly have that option elsewhere.
Part biography of Edwin Land and part company history, "Instant" also reviews the technical challenges of creating a self-contained, portable photo developing system, highlighting both its successes and notable shortcomings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good book to educate folks about the history of Polaroid. I came away a little inspired by this book, and liked that the book was written simply with large graphics.Published 2 months ago by J. A. Kunzler
I am also reading "A Triumph of Genius" great book, this book though is more of an overview. Hard to put down. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Greg Bowl
I liked this book so much I bought an sx-70 on e-bay! Ansel Adams pix rocked! Warhol... Ruled the world.Published 4 months ago by David Allen
This was an excellent book. I am an aficionado of Polaroid photography, and it was nice to learn about the history of the company, and of Edwin H. Land. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dan
I had a Polaroid camera when young, but knew little of the company, so this was quite informative. Polaroid started as a maker of polarizing filters, and only after WW II got into... Read morePublished 13 months ago by C. Griffith
It's written like a coffee-table book: breezy, easy and entertaining but not very deep or authoritative. Minus most of the photos it could have been a long magazine article. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Overall, was nice to read a book that was up to date with (almost) current events. Definitely recommend. Good study of when to let go. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Wesley G. Miller