I take a particular interest in this "intro textbook" thread since no
one has yet mentioned "How To Read a Film."
HTR first appeared in 1977. A second edition was published in 1981.
For one reason or another (most having to do with trying to earn a
living) the third edition didn't appear in English until last year.
(Although it appeared in German in 1995.)
Here's what's interesting: throughout the eighties and nineties the
aged 1981 edition of How To Read a Film continued to sell a few more
copies each year than it had the previous year! It's true that a lot
of the sales of HTR are in trade book stores, but when you consider
(1) each year there were more copies in circulation in the
efficient used textbook market than the year before
(2) the powerhouse Bordwell & Thompson text appeared early on
in this period
(3) the popular Giannetti book is regularly revised and updated....
this sales record was remarkable.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the new third edition is
selling significantly LESS well than the zombie second edition (if
the publishers are to be believed)!
So, I'm hoping to hear from someone who used the second edition in
the nineties when it was abysmally out of date, but has found the
updated and rewritten third edition inadequate enough to switch!
Although the publisher refuses to provide an adoption list, I know
HTR is used in some college film courses. How do I know this? My son
Andrew graduated last year from Colgate. In the fall of 1999 he took
an introductory film course and bought a used copy of his Dad's book.
He sold it back at the end of the semester.
If you are interested in what it is like to try to publish a text
like this there is a whole long story at readfilm.com. Go to
http://readfilm.com/discs.htm and click on The story behind the disc
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite