That Sucks Thursday: Book Lovers Unite!

Those Are Not Hayden's Real Arms, I Mean Really

*I preface this post by admitting I’m being a snob for no reason other than I can.*

As a book lover and avid reader I feel slightly ashamed to say sometimes I don’t read or hear about a book until the movie comes out.  This isn’t a dig on movies as a lesser medium by any means.  I’m pretty proud of my ability to judge movies based on books  on their merit as a film alone.  Occasionally I’ll bitch about how much could’ve been included to make the movie more authentic to the heart of the original story ::cough::Twilight::cough::, but my final verdict of good or bad is always based upon the movie alone.

While a movie based on a book usually creates a greater awareness or even curiosity for a book, it is never the driving force behind my desire to read the original story.  Honestly I’ll give anything a go, especially if the cover looks promising.  Which is why a recent trip to my local Barnes and Nobel had me wondering if I accidentally wandered into my local Blockbuster instead of the closest book store.  Since when did books become a marketing tool for all other media?

Does stamping “NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE” really garner that much in sales to make the reprint worth it?  Why the hell is Hayden Penihoweverthefyouspellit on the cover of Larry Doyle’s book?  She had nothing to do with it!  And for that matter the movie sucked, you would think the publisher would want to distance themselves a little bit and let the cover of the book reflect how original it is and that it is so not a Mean Girls“rip off?  Why in the world is HBO’s tagline in larger font than “New York Times Best Selling Author” on Dead Until Dark?  And no, I do not want a poster of Edward and Bella thank you very much, that will come in my next issue of Teen Bop,  I just want to read the second book in the Twilight series.  P.S.  It’s not exclusive now that we have a little thing called “the internet”.  Mine comes equipped with google image search, how about yours?

I realize my little bitch fit does no more than ask a bunch of rhetorical questions and rip on Hayden (which for the record I usually like, but that movie blew), but I am more than frustrated with the turn our book covers are taking – and that sucks.  I think it’s great that movies, tv shows, and Oprah are reaching a larger audience and introducing them to the wonderful world of literature, but couldn’t you just slap a sign on an end cap and not taint the author’s work with something they are lucky to be a consultant on?  I understand that the author usually has nothing to do with the cover art selected for their books, but can’t the two mediums stand alone?  It’s gotta be a slap in the face to the author for the publisher to pretty much declare they can’t sell your book unless a celebrity is on the cover.

As a collector of books I’m also frustrated.  I don’t read anything once so I almost always buy a book if I intend on reading it.  I love to go back every now and then and experience the worlds authors have introduced me too.  With the release of the movie tomorrow I’m reminded constantly that I’ve been meaning to read The Time Travelers Wife long before it was pitched as a movie.  I’m dismayed that the only copy I can now find new at local book stores is stamped with a giant major motion picture bubble on the front cover. It’s also disapointing that all of my Sookie Stackhouse novels have a big red circle promoting True Blood even though the cover is the original printing.

Is it my fault for jumping in too late to the game for some of these stories, or should publishers and movie studios stick to their ends of the court and stop trying to cross promote?

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7 thoughts on “That Sucks Thursday: Book Lovers Unite!

  1. Junkie1 says:

    Sadly, this isn’t new, you know…I mean how long have history’s composers of prose and song been brought to life on the silver screen (eventually to be followed by an obligatory bipoic)?

    In general, people are lazy; people will likely buy a book after it’s been rumored to become or is a movie (or after some daytime talking head says they should). So yes, it makes a difference…in dollars.

    The thing is the book industry is no different than the film or music industries. They all chase the bottom line (and like a hot shot law firm cleanses their professional souls with a little pro bono work) they let a few works of literature (or cinema or music) break through the thick crust of garbage at the top of the charts so they can sleep at night.

    I just don’t buy them if they’re branded. I’ll just add them to my list and wait for the fervor to die down. Thus goes my plan to either be lightyears ahead of the pack or lightyears behind. I just chatted about this on Entertainment Weekly’s site today…it’s sad. Such is life.

  2. Junkie2 says:

    I realize it isn’t new, but for Borders and B&N to give in so completely with merchandise tables made me sad.

    • Junkie1 says:

      The All-mighty Dollar strikes again!

      Really how different is it than slapping a giant font across the cover to tell you it’s a NY Times bestseller? That’s not letting it be on it’s own merit either. It’s all done to validate the title and sell. Plus, they’re chain stores. Think FOX Books from You’ve Got Mail. They dress up a book store to sell things to a general pop that has the attention span of a swarm of gnats (just add in CDs, DVDs, toys, coffee, food, magazines).

      We are not the general pop, obviously, but it’s the reason brilliant shows barely make it past one season before getting canceled or outstanding movies bomb at the box office…It certainly does suck.

  3. zrose25 says:

    Hey… haven’t you ever heard the saying… Don’t Judge a book by its cover. 🙂 Yeah some of the movie prints are kinda lame, but its what’s inside that really counts. When some of those major book stores put up the displays for movies made from books, it gets people wondering if the book was any better than the movie or show and gets them reading. I think anything that gets people reading can’t be all bad.

    Occasionally I will find a book on one of the aforementioned displays that I normally wouldn’t have ever found. Such as the Charlene Harris books… Though they aren’t the best books ever written, I probably wouldn’t have given it a try if HBO hadn’t picked them up as a series. But I ended up buying 7 of the 9 books that she has written. That’s a win for the publisher and a win for the store. Overall I think movie adaptation and subsequent marketing of books is a good thing. 🙂

    • Junkie1 says:

      True. This edition of Wuthering Heights is a perfect example of the good side.

      Most girls might have never thought to hit up Bronte, so I’m glad people like Meyer’s admit to their inspiration, and get people to check out the classics. Let’s face it–there hasn’t been anything produced in our generation that is truly unique. It’s all been done before.

      That said, jumping from Stephanie Meyer to Bronte or JK Rowling to Dickens (or Tolkien) or Helen Fielding to Austen is a major leap. I would rather be more rant-y about the difference between “writers” and “authors” (aka books vs. literature).

  4. Eralc Alegna says:

    I’ve always been really annoyed by this if for no other reason (like the soulessness) than that it detracts from the main reason I love books – they have character. Seeing some bright shiny new cover with bright shiny new faces takes away some of the authenticity and leaves behind an odd artificial feeling, an emptiness.

    • Junkie1 says:

      I see that…plus, as a graphic designer, there’s nothing worse than going to (finally) pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read with the great cover art only to be met with an “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker slapped on top of it or some innocuous celeb’s face.

      But, what are you going to do? It’s like my unending “I can’t believe they canceled Freaks and Geeks” rants–I don’t like it, but I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel.

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