Books about VHS

| Filed under: Books, Movies

Collecting VHS tapes is a hobby that I've always wanted to get into, but my very full shelves have prohibited me from adding another excuse to hoard. I also feel like movie streaming options are a bit underwhelming these days, and I'm intrigued by the idea of going low tech and watching a bunch of B movies on VHS that aren't available anywhere else. And then there's the box art, the glorious forgotten art of VHS box art.

Since collecting old VHS tapes isn't super practical, I like to admire the box art through books. The VHS tape, in general, has seen a slight revival in recent years through companies like Mondo and Alamo Drafthouse. Most of the books I've listed are full of old box art, but I've also included some narratives on the video store and a few guides to obscure movies that you can only find on VHS. Although I think I've covered most everything, let me know if there's something I missed.

  • Stuck on VHS: A Visual History of Video Store Stickers


    The covers on all these books really don't do them justice (seriously, take a sec to look at the interior photos). This book was put together by Birth.Movies.Death (RIP) and even has three pages of peelable stickers at the end.

    Buy on Amazon

  • VHS Video Cover Art: 1980s to Early 1990s

    Thomas Hodge

    I'm all about preservation when it comes to obscure box art. This newer book features artwork for such hits as Cocaine Wars, Death Code Ninja, and Pinball Summer. It's primarily B-grade exploitation flicks, so be warned that a lot of the covers are NSFW.

    Buy on Amazon

  • VHS Collecting: The Modern Relevance of Home Video

    Cory J. Gorski

    This book is about the world of videotape collecting. Like I said earlier, my other collections really prevent me from diving into VHS tapes, but I'm intrigued by the hobby. A nice mix of nostalgia and tips on getting started.

    Buy on Amazon

  • VHS: Absurd, Odd, and Ridiculous Relics from the Videotape Era

    Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher

    Does anyone remember the Found Footage Festival at Alamo? This book is a greatest hits compilation of their box art. The book itself is out of print and ridiculously expensive on the resale market, but their festival footage is available at the Super Long Play Club.

    Buy on Amazon

  • Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box, Vol. 1

    Jacques Boyreau

    This is another VHS-sized book that features a bunch of old exploitation films. I got this book as a gift many years ago, and it got me interested in box art. My favorite cover might be Video Violence, a movie about a deranged killer at a video store.

    Buy on Amazon

  • Videoland: A Visual Catalog of American Video Store Logos 1980-1995 Zine

    Andy Sturdevant

    I don't even remember where I heard about this little zine, and I apologize in advance because I think I bought the last copy on the internet (and had to get it from the UK). I only wish it was 1,000 pages instead of 28.

    Buy on Amazon

  • I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmakers' Oral History of a Vanished Era

    Tom Roston

    This book is a collection of interviews with filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Darren Aronofsky that talk about how the video store culture influenced their work (it also includes a foreword by local hero Richard Linklater). An easy, quick read that can be finished in an evening.

    Buy on Amazon

  • From Betamax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video

    Joshua M. Greenberg

    Well, I've got to include some history, and this book seems to be the authority. Greenberg writes about the explosion of VHS and how it led to the early videophile communities. Of course, it ends with Blockbuster ruining everything by driving out all the mom-and-pop stores.

    Buy on Amazon

  • Awful Awesome Action Volume 1: A Journey Through the Wild World of So-Bad-They're-Good Action Films

    Jacob Gustafson

    "So bad, they're good" has always been my favorite genre. More a guide than a gallery, this book is the first in a three-part series that includes Horror and Sci-Fi. I've just about run through my watch lists during the pandemic, and I've enjoyed the lesser-known recommendations.

    Buy on Amazon

  • Teen Movie Hell: A Crucible of Coming-of-Age Comedies from Animal House to Zapped!

    Mike McPadden

    I fondly remember taping Porky's and Revenge of the Nerds off HBO as a kid (which, in hindsight, was pretty inappropriate for a 10-year-old, but whatever). Throughout the 80s, it seemed like teen movies either got raunchier or more mainstream.

    Buy on Amazon

  • The Teenage Slasher Movie Book

    Kerswell J. A.

    This is another book full of mostly obscure films from the VHS era. You can find some of these old slasher flicks on the streaming services, but I really think they deserve to be enjoyed on VHS. An oversized book with lots of good artwork and commentary.

    Buy on Amazon