Tag Archives: hardback

The Great Movie Stars by David Shipman

31 Oct

The content of The Great Movie Stars book is very fine. I expect there is a HARDBACK version which is easy to read. I bet you just lay it upon the library table, open it, and it behaves itself, staying open, not trying to close.

Sadly, the Angus and Robertson PAPERBACK version (646 pages) that I bought for £2, at a very useful charity book shop, in the far east end of Bournemouth, fights you. You wait to hear it splutter from the bitter depths of its shame: 

“Hands off, damn you! I believe you have a corn flakes packet you ought to be reading, you irrelevant oik!”

Like many other modern, gummed-spine books, it will not allow you to relax whilst you read. As you attempt to make progress, it desires to close itself and resume its glossy pose. By the time you are ready to settle in to reading, you are struggling to hold the book open.

It is not just that (in my copy of TGMS at least) the pages 471 to 478 (half of Sidney Poitier; all of  Jane Powell, Elvis Presley, and Robert Preston; and half of Vincent Price) are missing (not ripped out by a previous owner, just never there in the first place). No, it is much worse than that.

I do not know for certain the technical term used by the publishing and printing industries, but ditch sounds familiar, and it will have to do for the middle where the lines of print seek to curve downwards into where you are just going to have to GUESS what it says…  

So, by page 216, you have had enough, and you grab each side, and you prize it apart, and there is a cracking sound, and from then on… the problem has gone, except that the pages will eventually start falling out.

And the whole problem need not happen at all because there is a wide white margin on one side of every page. Captions for the monochrome photographs are plonked in these otherwise empty margins.

The margins are ALWAYS on the outside of the page. If the margins were in the ditch there would be no problem. No prizing. No cracking.

The easy answer is to buy hardbacks. And if we do not buy hardbacks, we just have to suffer.

As for my Shipman TGMS, I am well aware that it is an inanimate object, but I when I hold it in my unworthy, living, sentient hands, I feel so much empathy with the poor, inadequate, incomplete, busted thing… 

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