The Book Industry and Movies

A lot of people like to say the phrase “Books will never die” even though some may not always believe it. Even I started to doubt it. You don’t see many people around reading classic literature unless you like to surround yourself with people that do. Most of the time I see people reading books that have been adapted into movies. Hollywood has been keeping the book market alive.

It seems like books are released with the expectations that a movie will be adapted. The main reason all comes back to money. Companies know that a book released along side a movie will make exponentially more than a stand alone book. Just think about all the book movies lately: Divergent, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray, Enders Game, Twilight, Fault in Our Stars, Wild, The Hobbit, American Sniper, The Giver, Gone Girl, Paper Towns, Maze Runner, ect.

Releasing a movie based on a book appeals to more audiences. Many people feel they have to read the book before watching the movie to better judge it, or others will go buy the book just to say it was better than the movie. The movie trailers create hype for the movie and advertise the book at the same time. Movie editions of books are often released with the movie poster on the cover instead of the original design. It just makes more money that way.

The Fault In Our Stars movie grossed over 124 million dollars and the books sold over 1.8 million copies.
The Fault In Our Stars movie grossed over 124 million dollars and the books sold over 1.8 million copies.

So is this necessarily a good thing? I’m not sure if getting more people to read Fifty Shades of Gray and Twilight is a huge priority. But at least it gets people to read more. If people start reading more because of the movies about them, maybe they’ll like them so much they’ll branch out to different books. For instance someone could read Hunger games and love it so much they look for more dystopian novels like it, maybe 1984 or Anthem. Or someone could read Fault in Our Stars and then go read Catcher in the Rye because how much it influenced John Green. This isn’t going to happen every time but it’s a start.

The next goal would be to get people to read books without seeing the movie as an incentive. One suggestion I would have for this would be to expose reading to children at an early age. Read every night to a child, even if they’re too young to understand it, but later on it will make sense to them. Or in middle school make reading fun for the children. Pick a socially accepted and popular book. Let’s say right now it would be Fault in Our Stars. I’m guessing a good amount of the students would be excited to read that book. Afterwards talk about the book and what influenced the author to write it the way they did. Then later on in the class you can have them read Catcher in the Rye, or some other academically accepted novel, and explain the parallels between the two. Doing this will create a basis for which the students can actually appreciate the novel.

If you’re trying to influence an adult to start reading, pay attention to what media they consume. If they watch nothing but Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica, suggest a sci-fi novel for them. Something close enough that it will pique their interest. Or if they watch Game of Thrones try getting them to read the books the show is based on or other fantasy books.

Movies have done a lot of good towards books. They boost sales and make people genuinely excited to read again, but if a person only reads books a movie is based on then they’re severely limiting themselves. In fact reading may actually be dead if it weren’t for Hollywood acting as a crutch for the book industry. No matter what the content is, the more people reading the better.

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28 thoughts on “The Book Industry and Movies

  1. ANYTHING that gets people reading is fine by me. There is an encouraging movement back to buying the rights to a book and then hiring a screenwriter now in many indie production companies. For a long while there directors were writing the screenplays themselves and they weren’t based them on existing novels. We live in a multi-media world so we may as well embrace every opportunity and medium available to raise awareness of, and, SELL, our books. Lots of superb books have failed to translate well to the big screen or smaller screen but every time it works it’s gold for the author. Book Thief was a superb movie and very true to the book. Chocolate and Like Water For Chocolate were both superb movies but quite different from the brilliant books they were based on. I think most authors realize that movie/television/stage adaptations of their novel have a different set of criteria and subtle changes may need to be made…hence the word “adapt”. And most readers understand that and factor it in. Breakfast at Tiffanys, the movie, was quite different from Capote’s novel but both worked. Steppenwolf worked as a book but the movie had little of the originality and magic whereas Austen is superb on screen but a little labored in print. Shades of Grey fails to work in any medium. Once again great post.

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    • I should have mentioned that I do enjoy quite a few movie adaptations. For instance, even though it’s a little older, the Grapes of Wrath movie has to be my favorite. It translated so well to the big screen. I also liked the example of the Hobbit movies taking more liberties to add to the story.

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  2. I enjoyed reading your “The Book Industry and Movies,” and I feel similarly on all the points you made – from having it encourage people to read more even if the books are strongly connected with movies all the way to then springboarding to other kinds of books that have no movie connection but either are classics or allow for more exploration in reading. And with my children, reading to them was something we just always did, and as they have grown up I still see the benefits of that approach. 🙂

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      • Yes, we always set aside time every day for reading. Lots of great memories sitting snuggled up on the couch with all my kids, as I would read out loud. 🙂

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    • In a way it really is true. There’s some classics I’ve read and absolutely hated, and others that I’ve loved. At a certain point it’s the legacy of the book that lives on instead of the book itself.

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  3. Interesting post. I have two thoughts:

    I don’t think most modern books are created to become movies. Most mega-popular book-to-movie adaptations are based on YA novels. Those adaptations on represent a minute portion of the YA novels out there. To publish a book in hopes of it getting turned into a film is statistically foolish. 50 Shades of Grey is not a YA novel, but it is inspired by a YA novel (“Twilight Saga”) that carried a strong audience with it. All the older members of the Twilight audience easily drifted over to “50 Shades,” and with an already pre-determined audience like that in addition to the to the audience of cheesy & erotic novels, of course a movie studio would swipe it up.

    Also, just because people don’t read the classics, doesn’t mean that reading is dying. Most don’t read the classics unless they’re literature buffs.

    So, all this being said, I don’t think reading ever was in danger of dying. The kind of people who hate to read still do now and those that like to read will continue to.

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  4. I had a class in film school about adapting books into movies. It was very interesting. One of the things many screenwriters do in adapting is they take the three most crucial moments from the book and put it in the script. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Casino Royale in 2006 was a GREAT example of this.

    And I saw Fault in Our Stars then read the book. Both were great. The screenwriters did a tremendous translation.

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  5. As someone who rarely visits the cinema, I found this a very interesting post. As I’ve got older I’ve found myself reading less fiction. But I’ve always loved Tolkein nd was amazed by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. However The Hobbit is a totally different book to LoTR. It’s a children’s book for one and about a tenth the length of the LoTR trilogy, but Jackson just made into a LoTR extension. I much prefer reading, as this allows you to imagine the characters and the scenery, but in a film all this is imagined for you. For this reason alone, most books are better than their film equivalent. The exception has to be The Da Vinci Code, an appallingly poorly written book.

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  6. I like to try and focus on getting people to push their boundaries and stretch themselves, I think a lot of people would benefit from discovering the best books out there and being turned onto books in a bigger way. I think game of thrones has done a lot for readers and also the offshoots of movie franchises, it’s a good foundation to be built on.

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  7. An interesting article (thank you for checking out my blog by the way). I strongly agree with you on some points, sadly also about the decline of reading people in our world. I also support the theory that movie adaptations can lead to an interest in a certain genres (you mentioned Hunger Games and dystopia-fiction). And yet, by doing so there are a lot of books that are missed out on, simply because their genre is either not or hardly represented in the movie industry or because it has so few links to other genres no one would accidentally stumble across them. Catcher in the Rye is, at this point at least, no hidden gem anymore and has been mauled to death by university professors all around the world. If this trend keeps going we will lose a niche of books that are neither classic nor pop-culture. An example that came to my mind was Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, a beautifully written book I would have never heard about if it wasn’t for the scandal surrounding its content. But it piqued my interest to check out his other works. Anyway, great article and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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    • I can see your point on this. It seems like the key to success in the book industry is a movie deal. I like to use Catcher in the Rye just as an example, but even then there were several movie adaptations for it proposed. I’ll also have to check it Satanic Verses, I haven’t heard it until now.

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  8. I agree with your entire post.
    It is sad though, to see the generation today just reading a book that is popular.
    I have always loved reading, and still do to this day. Reading books such as The Flea Palace, The Prince, Sense and Sensibility, The Tale of Two Cities, The Shack; among many others are my cup of tea. I rarely read anything that is considered popular, due to the fact that they are not that great to begin with. I couldn’t make past the second page of Fifty Shades of Grey (friend’s book). But hey, whatever gets the public to start reading again.

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  9. I find it interesting that I relate to the thought that people are more inclined to read the book if they’ve seen the movie. For example, The Maze Runner—saw the movie, liked it, decided to read the book. But I’ve been irritated at the vast amount of (young) people who only read the books because they’ve seen the movie, or just because it was a popular YA that everyone was reading at school. It’s brain candy, for the most part, and I understand that. Life is stressful. Who want’s to sit down after a long day at school/work to flip through a few chapters of East of Eden? (apparently, only me).

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