FOREWORD by SUSIE DENT
"I love this book. It is funny and sad and sharp and clever and, every now and then, fantastically naughty. It will make you feel both keening nostalgia for the lost days of video shops and joyful relief that you never have to go into Blockbuster ever again." - Sam Jordison, Guardian critic, editor of Crap Towns, co-director of Galley Beggar Press.
From the early 80's until just a couple of years ago, the video shop was a little part of everyone's life in the UK.
Except mine. It was a really big part of my life. And across those three decades, I spent a lot of time in them.
I was the wide-eyed kid staring at the gory painted covers in the horror section. I was the teenager hanging out that they couldn't get rid of. I was the surly bastard till jockey. I was the stressed-out manager and eventually I was the guy who got to open his own chain of kick-ass cool indie video stores.
I'm a filmmaker and a film writer now, but through my teens, twenties and thirties I worked in a total of thirteen different video shops - from monolithic corporate outlets, chains that desperately tried to emulate those monolithic corporate outlets, to long-forgotten back street Mom n' pops, to raging, vibrant high street indies. And I have stories to share.
Videosyncratic is my book about my adventures in, and observations of, that industry. Think 'Kitchen Confidential' but replace the hardworking kitchen staff with a bunch of lazy, rude, wisecracking bastards, sitting around watching films and finding new and creative ways to upset customers.
For an entire industry that came and went in our lifetimes, the UK video shop culture has been woefully undocumented - it was a bizarre clash of failed homegrown entrepreneurship and the awkward application of American customer service values onto a confused and apathetic British workforce.
In this book, I'll guide you from the early 80s to 2010, when I closed down my own video shops and left the industry in its death throes.
The book has everything you could want from a book on video shops - video nasties, late fees, corporate sleaze, indie hijinks, triumph, failure, romance, adventure, grown adults being dragged out of shops by their ears, awkward sex in the VHS section and, most importantly, film geekery of the highest order.
THIS BOOK IS THE EXACT SIZE AND SHAPE OF A VHS TAPE. WHICH IS COOL BEYOND WORDS.