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Movie Tie-Ins in an Age of E-Publishing

Remember those coffee-table books you might have bought (often on the discount table, since so many end up unsold) for a movie you liked? You’d browse through them, then they’d usually end up, if not on a coffee table, then somewhere almost out of sight until you remembered to include them in a garage sale. Often these books came out after the release of a big-budget movie, as high-priced souvenirs.

Movie tie-in books – especially the picture ones – don’t really seem to have a long shelf life. Well, they seem to have a long shelf life (they never seem to go away), but not as books you want to look through.

Well now your iPad can be the repository for such once-looked at, long-forgotten tie-ins.

A couple of weeks before the launch of Tim Burton’s new film Frankenweenie, Disney Publishing Worldwide is offering a digital version of the glossy movie book. It’s called Frankenweenie: An Electrifying Book.

Now I’m not averse to tie-ins. One of the first professional things I ever wrote was the novelization of a movie that happened to have been written by a college friend. This was in the days when books read more like books and not movie treatments and a novelization – a book derived from the screenplay – was a way not only to give the reader more of a sense of the character, but to continue the marketing of the film. The publisher for some reason didn’t want the book tied in to the actual movie, but marketed it as a paperback original (ah, the wisdom of publishers).

But glossy movie books, which might have a niche for hardcore cinephiles, aren’t cost-effective in this day of shrinking budgets at traditional publishing houses. Still, as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a movie by a moviemaker who has a strong fan base (there’ve been exhibitions of Tim Burton’s work – movie-related drawings and costumes, for example, in New York and Paris, among other cities), this could be a success.

It’s available free on Apple’s iBookstore, which is something interesting, especially since glossy movie books were often priced quite high.

But this move signals the strength of e-publishing, and perhaps a realization that the movie tie-in can best be served as before-release advertisement for a work.

Now, as someone who’s building a platform for your work, you don’t have to think in terms of tie-ins, at least yet. But you might consider how to create e-published ancillary materials for your book when it’s published, and for materials related to the seminars and talks you’ll be giving. It’s easier than ever to get published, and to produce high-quality work.

And you don’t have to wait for a garage sale to unload stuff you don’t want.

Just hit “delete.”

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