The Nielsen Company has released a report on the pervasive, indomitable Harry Potter brand in media, PW Daily reports. Most curious in the report is the money made from Potter transubstantiation: U.S. consumers spent $11.8 million on Harry Potter-licensed trademark cookies, candy and gum products since June 2002. Some other highlights:
- The first four Harry Potter films have grossed more than $3.5 billion worldwide
- The four Harry Potter movie soundtracks combined have sold more than 1.1 million copies in the U.S. There have been 180,000 total downloads of songs from those soundtracks.
- According to a recent Nielsen Cinema survey of moviegoers, 28% of persons 12+ in the U.S. have read one or more of the previous Harry Potter books, and 15% have read all the Harry Potter books to date.
According to Nielsen's press release, of the top selling books in the U.S. since 2001, three were Potter books. Four Potter films are included in the 20 highest grossing films of all time.
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PW Daily reports that Knopf, who published Bill Clinton's 957-page tome My Life in 2004, will release Clinton's newest work, GIVING: How Each of Us Can Change the World, in September. The book will go to press for 750,000 copies and will be simultaneously published in hardcover, audiobook, and large print. My Life set a one-day, non-fiction sales record in 2004, selling over 400,000 during its American debut, and the audiobook sold over 315,000.
"I've done my best in this book to demonstrate what I've seen firsthand through my Foundation's work in Africa and around the world: that all kinds of giving can make a profoundly positive difference," Clinton said in a release.
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hits shelves in less than two weeks (if that's too vague, there's a to-the-second countdown here), but bets on who's going to die, marry, or get knocked up have been going on for months.
William Hill Media, a group that collects bets on anything from Wimbledon to Oscar winners, has been taking bets on who kills Harry (that is, if Harry's one of the purported two who die in Hallows) and on whether Ron and Hermione get hitched. And, less interestingly, there's a bet on Harry catching the snitch in a Quidditch world cup--which, to someone unfamiliar with the lexicon, might sound like a bet on supernatural STD transmission.
Lord Voldemort leads with 2/1 odds of killing Harry; Fred Weasley's in last place with 100/1 odds.
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With the impending creation of a film version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the debate about “unfilmable” books rises again. Unfilmability is the reason a certain number of highly regarded and popular books never make it to the big screen—whether because their content is considered too violent to be filmed (as in the case of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho), or because the literary voice can’t be translated to a visual medium (as with Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle). But some filmmakers see these difficult cases as a challenge to put paper to celluloid.
Even the late great Stanley Kubrick considered a film version of Patrick Süskind’s Perfume (newly released under director Tom Tykwer) an impossible project. And this is the guy who took on Clockwork Orange. Strictly as a film, Perfume has received critical acclaim, but reviewers still complain that the movie falls short of the book in terms of capturing the world of scent: instead of evoking odors through description, it “tried to convey smell through close-up shots of the protagonist's nose—of which there were no less than 27.”
Rand fans are afraid a similar fate will befall their beloved Atlas Shrugged, a thinly veiled manifesto for her political ideology. In fact, despite the increased readership and hefty rights payments to the author a film version can bring, many fans hold that certain books were meant to remain untouched.
Take, for instance, the perennial favorite Catcher in the Rye. Filmmakers have been trying to get their hands on this bestseller for years to no avail. Salinger himself stands in their way, refusing to sell the rights. A Hollywood version of a literary classic often brings along plot changes, simplification, screenwriters’ poetic licenses, and dilution of the stuff that made the work great. It’s like trying to watch Michael Jordan play baseball: it’s just not what he does best.
There is room for hopeful or adventurous directors in the realm of the unfilmable, though. Consider Michael Winterbottom, who directed the film Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which is a film within a film about a book. The film tracks the efforts of actors and directors to shoot a film called (what else?) Tristram Shandy, a novel long considered unfilmable because of the ridiculous number of tangents the narrator himself takes. However, the film ingeniously captures the sentiments of the novel as scenes are shot, discarded, shot again, and discarded again, as production crews get distracted by their own lives. Eventually the filmmakers decide that the film is too difficult to shoot, and scrap the entire project. Winterbottom understood the inherent problems in developing a difficult book, and chose instead to take a new tack, perfectly capturing the true sentiment of the novel without mucking up the storyline. It’s a creative approach that works for those who’ve read the book, and those who haven’t.
TIP: If you’re an author and you don’t pride yourself on your unfilmability, check out these suggestions by leading screenplay writer Michael Hauge for developing and pitching your story to studio bigwigs.
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ReganBooks, known for Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star and José Canseco’s steroid exposé Juiced, has a long history of courting sensationalism. But the publisher—or more accurately, its parent company News Corp.—found the stopping point. Last week HarperCollins (owned by News Corp) announced that its imprint ReganBooks was to publish a book titled If I Did It by O.J. Simpson. The release would follow a two-part interview series set to air at the end of November sweeps on Fox (also owned by News Corp.).
The television tie-in immediately produced problems. Ratings and advertising revenues during sweeps help television networks set their advertising rates for the rest of the year. News Corp. decided to air the O.J. Simpson interview on Fox on two of the last days of sweeps and follow it up with the release of the book on November 30. Broadcasting companies often use outrageous ploys to pull in higher audience numbers and increase ad revenue.
This time, media buyers thought the sensationalist stunts had gone too far. Several buyers told Fox flat-out that their clients would not be advertising during the program. Some reports said Fox’s ad salespeople didn’t even try to sell the time because they knew the response would be negative.
Bookstores were just as reluctant. Although the book had hit Amazon’s top 20 list before it was released, Borders, Inc. announced it was going to donate all net profits earned on the book to a nonprofit organization for victims of domestic violence.
The message to News Corp. was that no one wanted to touch the project. Both projects were scrapped when News Corp.’s chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch issued a public apology.
“I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,” Murdoch said. “We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”
The backlash is considerable, and the incident is unique in the history of the entertainment industry—although Simpson’s “hypothetical memoir” was something of a singularity as well. All the books that had been shipped will be returned and then destroyed.
The question that remains is the long-term effect on the industry as a whole. Is there such a thing as a limit to our sensationalist appetites—and have we discovered it?
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In an industry that operates on micro-margins, discount programs can have a notable impact on your bottom line. Here are three tips to cut your fulfillment costs and grow your profits:
Tip #1: Open an account with UPS
First determine which account you should open: daily account with discounted rates or occasional account with the on-demand rate (same as retail rates). If you spend a minimum of $150 in revenue weekly, you’ll qualify for receiving discounted rates: 30% percent on Ground shipments and 10% on Express shipments. At this level, you can request a driver to stop by your shipping location for pick-up. To set-up a daily account with discounted rates, call 1-800-PICK-UPS. To set up an occasional account with on-demand rates, go to www.ups.com. Select the Business Solutions tab, and then select Small Business Owners. From this page, click on the link to register for My UPS and open a UPS account.
Tip #2: Create a FedEx account
To set up an account, you can either call 1-800-GO-FEDEX or go through their website, www.fedex.com; however, you will receive a 10% discount if you apply online. Once you’ve established an account, you must speak to customer service to determine if you’re eligible for discounted rates. Customer service will have a local sales representative contact you to see if you’re eligible. Discounted rates are based on actual, not projected, package volume.
Tip #3: Join the American Bookseller’s Association
If you’re a member of the American Bookseller’s Association, you’re eligible to receive discounts on FedEx, Yellow Transportation, and Overnite Transportation through their alliance with PartnerShip. There are no obligations and no minimum shipping requirements. You can save up to 30% per carton on FedEx Ground shipments and up to 26% on FedEx Express shipments. Find more information about how to save money through this program.