A shot in the backlist

<p>Hollywood is gearing up to hand out its most coveted accolades this Sunday (24th February), when the Academy Awards are announced at another star-studded ceremony. However, it is not only the actors and film crews that wait with baited breath&mdash;publishers are also keeping their fingers firmly crossed, as this year&rsquo;s list of nominees again contains several literary adaptations.</p>
<p><img width="73" height="115" align="left" alt="" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/No%20country%20cover%20new.jpg" />&ldquo;No Country for Old Men&rdquo;, &ldquo;There Will be Blood&rdquo;, &quot;The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly&rdquo;, &ldquo;Atonement&rdquo; and foreign-language film &ldquo;Beaufort&rdquo; are all based on books, and an Oscar crown is likely to boost sales of the original titles, especially if a tie-in edition is available.</p>
<p>Adaptations generally offer publishers a chance to piggyback on film promotions, and publishing a tie-in cover can be lucrative. &ldquo;Atonement&rdquo; catapulted Ian McEwan&rsquo;s book back to number one in <i>The Bookseller</i>&rsquo;s top 50 last September, and <i>The Devil Wears Prada</i>&rsquo;s tie-in edition went on to sell more than 570,000 copies through Nielsen BookScan, following the film&rsquo;s release in October 2006. <i>Memoirs of a Geisha</i>, <i>Notes on a Scandal</i>, <i>Brokeback Mountain</i> and <i>PS I Love You</i> are others that have enjoyed a fillip.</p>
<p>Rachel Cugnoni, Vintage publishing director, says issuing a tie-in edition is &ldquo;absolutely a no-brainer&rdquo;. &ldquo;It is not always touched with gold,&rdquo; she adds. &ldquo;But nevertheless, most of the time it spells really good news for us, and sometimes with astonishing results.&rdquo; Larry Finlay, Transworld m.d., agrees. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t um and err if an adaptation is getting a big cinematic release,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;When a film is based on a great book, the sales can be enormous.&rdquo;</p>
<p><img width="75" height="115" align="left" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Other%20Boleyn%20Girl%20new.jpg" alt="" />However, it is not as simple as slapping on a tie-in cover and voila! Susan Opie, HarperFiction editorial director, will publish a tie-in to the adaptation of Philippa Gregory&rsquo;s <i>The Other Boleyn Girl</i> this March. She says: &ldquo;Oh no&mdash;nothing takes care of itself. [There are] all sorts of added challenges. It&rsquo;s always worth doing, but you have to be realistic, because you&rsquo;re not in charge of the film.&rdquo;</p>
<p><b>In the nick of time</b><br />
One of the main challenges is timing. Film companies work to very different schedules than publishers, and securing cover images and promotional material can often be a last-minute rush.</p>
<p>Opie stresses that it is vital to have a plan. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no use thinking: &lsquo;Oh, maybe we would like to have the film poster on the cover.&rsquo; As soon as you know who&rsquo;s producing the film, you have to make contacts and be prepared for the fact that the two industries work on different time frames.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Another problem can be the cover itself. Booksellers are divided on the attractiveness of tie-in images and are aware of a certain snobbery among book buyers. Some welcome them with open arms, while others are rather more sniffy.</p>
<p>Foyles&rsquo; Jonathan Ruppin says: &ldquo;[There are] people who wouldn&rsquo;t be seen dead with a film tie-in&mdash;at Foyles we rarely even bother with tie-in editions.&rdquo; Nic Bottomley of Mr B&rsquo;s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath thinks that &ldquo;some of the [tie-in] covers are howlers&rdquo;, and tries to &ldquo;avoid them like the plague&rdquo;. Keeping the original cover running alongside the tie-in version is vital, Bottomley says, and a film can have a noticeable effect on book sales. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s great when there&rsquo;s a film that has a strong connection to a book; it definitely boosts sales. If producing the film tie-in helps increase the market, then it helps every edition that&rsquo;s out there.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Borders, meanwhile, displays film tie-ins prominently and, according to fiction buyer Michael Jones, they have featured in the chain&rsquo;s top 10 bestsellers every week for the past six months.</p>
<p><b><img width="75" height="115" align="left" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Diving%20bell%20cover%20new.jpg" alt="" />An extra shot at sales</b><br />
Despite differences over aesthetics, publishers know that a tie-in edition will help a backlist title back into the front of stores. Paul Baggaley, HarperPerennial publishing director, says: &ldquo;Usually both editions would be kept available, but realistically, if you&rsquo;re going to get them into a central retail promotion, [retail chains] will want the film tie-in&mdash;that&rsquo;s what has immediate recognition.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Putting the film&rsquo;s artwork on a cover is about attracting new readers, reviving a book&rsquo;s bestseller potential. &ldquo;What any film does is reach an audience we can never reach, even with our biggest bestsellers, &lsquo;Richard &amp; Judy&rsquo; picks and Man Booker Prize-winners,&rdquo; Cugnoni says. &ldquo;There are still lots of people who will not go and buy a book unless it has been made into a film.&rdquo; Bottomley agrees that &ldquo;when you get a film, it gives people an excuse to read things, even if they wouldn&rsquo;t read it otherwise&rdquo;.</p>
<p>Opinions diverge on whether a film has to be a mega-blockbuster&mdash;&agrave; la &ldquo;Atonement&rdquo;&mdash;for the original book to re-enter the public&rsquo;s consciousness. Simon Burke, Waterstone&rsquo;s fiction buying manager, says: &ldquo;A film tie-in succeeds or fails on the strength and longevity of the parent movie&mdash;something in and out of the cinemas in a weekend is not going to have the effect of a blockbuster.&rdquo;</p>
<p>However, even an arthouse movie on limited distribution can have a measurable impact. When the adaptation of Imre Kert&eacute;sz&rsquo; <i>Fatelessness</i> was released, for example, Vintage sold 10,000 of the film tie-in&mdash;twice the expected paperback sales. &ldquo;It isn&rsquo;t a huge amount,&rdquo; Cugnoni says, &ldquo;but it&rsquo;s still something where we can reap the benefits on a title by an unknown author. We want every book to fulfil its potential, and if we can double the sale of a book, then it&rsquo;s worth our while.&rdquo;</p>
<p>&ldquo;Brick Lane&rdquo;, based on Monica Ali&rsquo;s novel, wasn&rsquo;t as successful as expected, despite the controversy surrounding its production. But, Finlay says, the tie-in sold 40,000 copies, &ldquo;which is not to be sniffed at by any means&rdquo;. He also mentions &ldquo;We Were Soldiers&rdquo;, a Mel Gibson film that was out in the UK for only four weeks. &ldquo;We picked up the rights to the book on which it was based [by Harold G Moore and Joseph L Galloway], turned it round on a sixpence, and went on to sell 250,000 copies,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The film was here and gone, but it&rsquo;s a great book, with a great cover. [It&rsquo;s about] being out there on the shelves, looking great and continuing to sell brilliantly.&rdquo;</p>
<p><b><img width="73" height="115" align="left" alt="" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Atonement%20news.jpg" />Film-makers don&rsquo;t bite</b><br />
An important part of ensuring sales is the publisher&rsquo;s relationship with the film company. &ldquo;Make sure everyone talks to each other,&rdquo; Opie says. &ldquo;Film companies are usually only too willing to talk to you about who is going to be the promotions manager. We do come from different industries, but we&rsquo;re not a million miles apart&mdash;neither side bites.&rdquo;</p>
<p>In the case of <i>Atonement</i>, Cugnoni says the film company was more than happy to collaborate on cross-promotion, owing to McEwan&rsquo;s high profile. However, it is not always so straightforward. &ldquo;What we find most often is that we&rsquo;re hanging on to their coat- tails, and we&rsquo;re like slightly irritating flies,&rdquo; she says.</p>
<p>Cugnoni adds that it is worth persevering nonetheless. &ldquo;Even if the film isn&rsquo;t great, [film companies] still spend more money than any publisher has ever spent on promoting one single book. So even if the film gets badly reviewed, a very obvious and high-profile image is being flashed up in every media. You&rsquo;re getting more coverage, attention and profile than you would in any book campaign.&rdquo;</p>
<p><b>A tie-in packed year</b><br />
This year is also packed with literary adaptations, and publishers have high hopes for their titles. Opie believes <i>The Other Boleyn Girl </i>adaptation will be &ldquo;quite a big one&rdquo;. &ldquo;The promotions will feature the new cover, with a rather spectacular Scarlett Johansson. [The film] ticks all the right boxes.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Finlay is looking forward to the adaptations of John Boyne&rsquo;s <i>The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas</i> and Sophie Kinsella&rsquo;s <i>The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic</i>, and is hoping for <i>The Devil Wears Prada</i>-esque success for the latter. &ldquo;Kinsella has been such a top mainstream author for so many years, and yet this is the first time she is coming to celluloid, so there will be a lot of discussion about the books, I&rsquo;m sure.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Vintage&rsquo;s forthcoming tie-in editions include one for Cape graphic novel <i>Persepolis</i>. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the first time we&rsquo;ve done a graphic novel tie-in,&rdquo; Cugnoni says. &ldquo;It will be interesting in terms of whether it&rsquo;s going to be worthwhile.&rdquo; At HarperPerennial, Baggaley is looking to replicate the success of Che Guevara&rsquo;s <i>The Motorcycle Diaries</i> with two more Guevara books coinciding with two major forthcoming films.</p>
<p>There will also be tie-ins for the film versions of Alice Sebold&rsquo;s <i>The Lovely Bones</i> (Picador), directed by Peter Jackson; Amanda Foreman&rsquo;s <i>Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire</i> (Flamingo), featuring Keira Knightley; and Richard Yates&rsquo; <i>Revolutionary Road </i>(Vintage), which reunites Kate Winset and Leonardo di Caprio in 2009.</p>
<p>Meanwhile, Vintage, Picador, Harvill Secker and HarperPerennial will no doubt have an eye on proceedings in Los Angeles on Sunday, hoping for the ultimate icing on the tie-ins cake.</p>
<p><b>2008's tie-ins / adaptation release date</b></p>
<p><i>The Kite Runner</i> by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury) / 26th Dec (2007) <br />
<i> PS I Love You </i>by Cecelia Aherne (Harper) / 4th Jan<br />
<i> No Country for Old Men</i> by Cormac McCarthy (Picador) / 18th Jan <br />
<i> The Water Horse </i>by Dick King-Smith (Puffin) / 8th Feb <br />
<i>Jumper</i> by Steven Gould (HarperVoyager) / 14th Feb <br />
<i>Oil! There Will Be Blood</i> by Upton Sinclair (Penguin) / 15th Feb&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Other Boleyn Girl </i>by Philippa Gregory (Harper) / 7th Mar&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> Love in the Time of Cholera</i> by Gabriel Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez (Penguin) / 21st Mar&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i>Beaufort</i> by Ron Leshem (Harvill Secker) / 28th Mar&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Ruins</i> by Scott Smith (Corgi) / 18th Apr&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i>Persepolis</i> by Marjane Satrapi (Cape) / 25th Apr&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Oxford Murders</i> by Guillermo Mart&iacute;nez (Abacus) / 25th Apr&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?</i> by Morgan Spurlock (Harvill Secker) / 9th May &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas</i> by John Boyne (Black Swan) / 20th June&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian</i> by C S Lewis (HarperCollins) / 27th June&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging </i>by Louise Rennison (HarperCollins) / 25th July&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> Brideshead Revisited</i> by Evelyn Waugh (Penguin) / 12th Sept&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> How to Lose Friends &amp; Alienate People </i>by Toby Young (Abacus) / 3rd Oct&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic </i>by Sophie Kinsella (Black Swan) / 24th Oct&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> The Reader</i> by Bernhard Schlink (Phoenix) / 26th Dec&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />
<i> Revolutionary Road </i>by Richard Yates (Vintage) / 9th Jan 2009&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>