Monday News: Adapting books, print’s survival, history in pictures, and new Mark Twain fairytale
Why Hollywood is turning to books for its biggest productions – The obvious answer to this question is money, but the specific justifications are a good reminder that the commercial aspects of commercial art do not necessarily favor novelty and innovation. Here studios can “manage risk” by adapting already popular material, securing an already existing audience. They can hope to recoup a bigger budget because of this, and they can help publishers boost a book that may not have initially yielded a large profit. One part of the piece I found particularly interesting is the analysis of On Demand services like Netflix providing a fitting space for fleshing out book series, allowing for depth and breadth that other forms of production and distribution may not be able to match.
Established popular books are a comparably faster and data-supported way for studios to develop film and TV plots. As more studios compete to have the next Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, it’s easier to turn to a completed work and fully envisioned (and beloved) world than to develop a story in-house.
“It’s all about managing risk for the studios,” Hawk Otsby, co-writer of Children of Men and producer on Syfy’s The Expanse, explained in an email to The Verge. “It’s extremely difficult to sell a blockbuster original script today if isn’t based on some popular or recognizable material… Audiences know the story, so they’re sort of pre-sold on it. In other words, it has a recognizable [intellectual property] and can rise above the noise [and] competition from the internet, video games, and Netflix.” – The Verge
Books Stubbornly Refused to Be Disrupted, and It Worked – The myth of the print book’s almost (not really) disappearance is still alive and fueling articles like this one. And who are the heroes of this particular version? Why, traditional publishers, of course! Because they are “flexible and versatile”! How do we know? Because they brilliantly stuck to their print-first model and are now tasting victory!
The rise of print book sales and decline in ebooks in 2015 was no accident. Last year, the trend continued, and self-publishing in electronic form no longer seemed as good a bet as in previous years. In 2016, the unit sales of printed books in the U.S. increased by 3.3 percent. That’s not unusual, except this year, the publishing industry didn’t produce any runaway bestsellers like 2015’s “The Girl on the Train” by Erin Cressida Wilson, and only a handful of books, mostly from previous years, sold more than 1 million copies. . . .
If traditional book publishers accepted that the digital revolution meant a total overhaul of their business — the way the music and media industries have largely done — they would be locked in the same race to the bottom that those two industries have faced. The ease of digital self-publishing and readers’ sense that digital books should be cheaper than paper ones have resulted in growing unit sales but falling revenues — much like the audiences of major news media have snowballed since the turn of the century without a concurrent growth in revenue. On the digital side of book publishing, this “death spiral” is not only evident in the U.S. but also in more traditional markets, such as Germany. – Bloomberg
Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street – A compelling, bittersweet chronicle of one journalist’s search for the owners of a photo album she found in her Crown Heights neighborhood, the volume put out for recycling. Unraveling the mystery of the photo album took quite a few months, and it speaks to the importance of primary source, as well as to the nature of written history (as in who writes it, who is featured, and who gets left out) and how lived experience doesn’t always conform to expectations and assumptions (which goes back to the first point).
The pages were fragile, and they cracked when I turned them, as if the album hadn’t been opened in a long time, but the photos were perfectly preserved. They seemed to chronicle the life of a black couple at midcentury: a beautiful woman with a big smile and a man who looked serious, or was maybe just camera-shy, and had served in World War II.
As I turned the pages, the scenery changed from country picnics to city streets and crowded dance halls in what appeared to be Harlem, and the couple went from youth to middle age. Looking at the album, I was struck by how joyful the photos were — and by the fact that as fabled as this era was, I had never seen a black family’s own account of that time. . . .
I decided to uncover its story. I thought it would be simple. But chasing the album would become something of a journey, one that would take me far from present-day Brooklyn to the Jim Crow South, from a remote island in the Pacific to the packed tenements of Harlem, before returning me to Lincoln Place at another moment of great change. – New York Times
Mark Twain House hopes for boost from 1879 fairy tale – It is no secret that Mark Twain wrote at an amazing speed and amassed a great deal of content during his lifetime. So this new find – based on a story the author told his daughters – will hopefully serve as relief for the financially strapped Connecticut Twain House. The story, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, was assembled from notes, and I think the idea of having the estate benefit in this way is genius, in part because it’s precisely the kind of thing Twain would have done himself.
At the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, there is excitement that the story could help introduce the writer to wider audiences — and provide a financial lift for the nonprofit organization that curates the three-story Gothic Revival mansion where Twain raised his family.
A researcher found the story in the archive of the Mark Twain Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. When the University of California Press passed on taking it to publication, the archive’s director, Bob Hirst, endorsed enlisting the Twain House as an agent in part because of financial struggles the museum has had to overcome. – Yahoo News