William Zinsser wrote “sell yourself and your subject will exert its own appeal.” The popularity of books fluctuates as in any other market, subject to fads, publicity, and hype. Zinsser is right; people buy books based upon appeal. I’d like to think I’m a sophisticated buyer. However, I know I’m subject to the market mentality just as much as the next person. We all would like to think our individual tastes determine our likes and dislikes, but really the market dictates most of our buying decisions.
What is the best way to influence the market positively in favor of a book? What gets people to browse on Amazon and ultimately click “Add to Cart”? A movie deal.
The book that comes to mind for me is Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Blog turned book, book turned movie. Right now that book is number 4 on the New York Times Bestseller list for paperback nonfiction. And what is second on the list? My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. The interest brought on by the movie has triggered book sales for Julie Powell and Julia Child who died in 2004. Who wouldn’t want to buy a book with cute Amy Adams and iconic Meryl Streep on the cover? Julie and Julia was first published in 2005, but the movie rejuvenated book sales, making it the beach-read this past summer. Today so many forms of entertainment bombard us. Publishers have for a long time realized that using multiple types of media sells.
Whether or not the transformation of a book into a movie results in a well made film is a topic for another time; but I think in order to compete for consumers in an oversaturated market a movie deal can have its advantages. With over a million copies sold of Julie and Julia, the market has spoken.