Turn TV Shows Into eBooks!

You don’t know what it was like to be a geek in the 1970s.

There was no VCR and what we liked wasn’t taken seriously by those who produced things. It was rare to come across professionally-published things outside of a few cheap magazines (Famous Monsters of Filmland).

Some fanzines managed to get good quality still photos, like Cinefantastique. But on the whole, photos were rare and scripts were even rarer.

Then Richard J. Anobile came along and made every geek go WOW!

He pioneered a new kind of mass-market paperback that came to be known as a Photonovel or, trademarked, Fotonovel.

Orgasmic cries could be heard throughout fandom when that book appeared.

Those kinds of books have gone away because, really, who needs them now that we’ve had VCRs, DVD players, and, today, streaming video?

However, technology now makes it possible to create our own.

That’s a Kindle displaying a PDF with screensnaps made from an episode of Eastenders.

The directions for doing that are here: iPlayer for Kindle

I’m not up on the kind of software that’s available to do it with American broadcast TV or even DVDs. However, when Rubicon was on the air, there was a LiveJournal site that offered HD screensnaps from episodes — that I now see could be compiled into a DIY photonovel. All that was missing from them were the captions. So I have to think this is possible outside of using the UK setup from that post.

Maybe someone out there will attempt this. It’d be interesting to see the size of a digital photonovel with two snaps per screen (portrait mode) or four snaps per screen (landscape).

If we had had all this tech back in the 1970s, we’d rule the world today. Like, we’d have major blockbuster movies about superheroes.

Oh. Wait.

We triumphed anyway.


Fotonovel Roundup
Star Trek Fotonovels
Richard J. Anobile’s Frankenstein


  1. CJJ28 August, 2012

    Great little article. Really jarred the neurons seeing that old Star Trek cover.

  2. Julia28 August, 2012

    Interesting! That was like a fotonovela (I hope that’s the right word). There were popular films turned into photostories in the 1950s in Italy, exactly like that, captions, balloons and all (it was a format they used both for lack of throughout alphabetisation and for the undeniable appeal of images, which is the raison d’être of the 1970s photostory, if I understood it right).

  3. Thomas28 August, 2012

    That first Star Trek movie probably was much better as a photo book than as a movie. There’s a reason one reviewer called it “Star Trek: The Motionless Picture.”

  4. Smoley28 August, 2012

    So if I understand this correctly, they were recreating the same content that was broadcast into a paper form?

    Or were they scraping frames from the broadcast and writing their own story using the same characters?

    Why would anyone do the former today, when you could watch the broadcast video on the majority of the popular eReaders/tablets?

  5. DavidW29 August, 2012

    What Smoley said. Plus if you want to recap a missed episode without watching it on hulu or ondemand from cable… just go to televisionwithoutpity.


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