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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Market and Merchandizing

   
Author Topic: Market and Merchandizing
Lorien
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It was bizzar to me to come back to this site and find a link to purchase "Dragon Army Gear". Clearly any Ender's Game movie would produce merchandizing, but it just seemed weird all the same.

I am excitied to see Ender's Game as a movie, but recently I've paused to wonder what kind of influence it has on the book. Sure sales go up, but...

Do you think that a movie can actually decrease the impact a books has? Any book.


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mikemunsil
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Well, sure, if the book never gets read by many people who just happened to see the movie first.

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited October 11, 2004).]


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hoptoad
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The Harry Potter Merchandising makes me imagine HP as Daniel Radcliffe everytime I read it now. Same with my kids. ie: I was reading something to my son when he said: 'But Ron doesn't have a long nose.'
I assume he thought the movie was more accurate than the book.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited October 12, 2004).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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The same thing has happened with me as far as LORD OF THE RINGS is concerned, but it doesn't bother me because I've been making up my own imaginary cast list for those books for years.

I have gone out and read the book after having seen a movie first, and I don't think I'm the only one. I don't do it, though, if I didn't enjoy the movie.

And the book is usually better than the movie.


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Lorien
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Ack! Dune. The movies have totally ruined that book. Someone should make one that does it justice. I have just talked to yet another friend who refuses to read the book because the movie(s) were so stupid. The count is now up to 3. Damn that golden winged codpiece that Sting wears.

Yes, I agree, the books are usually better.

I was wondering if Girl with a Pearl Earring is that way. The movie just blew me away with the cinnamatography and the supressed control created in that society.

What got me about LOTR was that I had purposfully not read the books again so I could enjoy the movies, and then some things in the movie that happened or were said were said by other people in the book and I remembered them and thought the movies were right! It was quite confusing to go back and find the movies had switched around all the dialog to different characters. Ok, that wasn't very articulate, but I think you get the idea...


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Robyn_Hood
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quote:
Ack! Dune. The movies have totally ruined that book.

I haven't read the books yet (they're on my list of things to read before I die), but I have seen a movie version of it that was pretty good, and a friend of mine who has read the books and seen the movie, said it was pretty close.

My experience is that if the author is dead, the movie is probably going to be pretty bad. The Last of the Mohicans was a good movie, but it had nothing to do with the book (I loved the movie when I first watched it, so I read the book; now I can't stand the movie). The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo are other examples. However, if you read something like The Client and then see the movie, they're pretty close.


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wetwilly
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Robyn_Hood, I'd save those books until you think you're going to die very soon. The boredom of reading them might kill you anyway.

Lorien, the book was just as bad as the movie. One of the most overrated books in history.

Actually, the book was worse than the movie. At least in the movie, there was Sting's golden winged codpiece for entertainment.


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Robyn_Hood
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quote:
At least in the movie, there was Sting's golden winged codpiece for entertainment.

??????

I don't remember seeing Sting (or a codpiece) in the version I watched.


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Jeraliey
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You probably saw the scifi channel's version.

I have to throw in for my favorite book here. Sorry for those who don't agree, but despite all its faults (ie: characterization and possibly plot), the ideas in it and the world that Herbert created to house them are some of the most interesting and exciting I've ever read. If you want to learn something about worldbuilding or creating a new culture and everything it would take to develop and support it, there is just no better book for it. Period. Exclamation point.

That having been said, I would definitely recommend stopping after the first book. The rest just ruin it.

I'm sorry for people who don't like it. I myself get something new from it each time I read it.


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Robyn_Hood
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Yes, it was. All six hours of it, and for the most part, I really liked it.

I'm glad it was as long as it was. I'm always disappointed by movies that don't even last two hours, when the books are an inch and half thick (or more).


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EricJamesStone
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> movies that don't even last two hours

Oh, but the public has such a short attention span, they can't handle anything long! That's why the Lord of the Rings movies did so poorly at the box office.


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Robyn_Hood
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Two hours = 120 minutes
120 minutes = 7 200 seconds
7200 seconds = 180 000 frames

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then:

180 000 frames (should) = 180 000 000 words

*****

Why is it that a two hour movie can't even come close to matching a book with a measly 100 000 words?


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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For whatever it may be worth, I, too, loved DUNE (the book).

And I agree that the sequels are not as good, so if you read DUNE and like it, stop there.


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yanos
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I have to say that I enjoyed Dune and its sequels (except for God Emperor, which just went on and on). In some ways Chapter House was like a return to what made Dune work. But that is just my opinion. But then I seem to be one of the few people here who enjoyed the Thomas Covenant books (the books that drew me into fantasy in the first place). I can't wait for the new series of TC books he is writing. I hope he is not doing a jordan.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I agree, yanos, that CHAPTER HOUSE seemed to go back to the old DUNE style I loved. I don't know if the ones that came after CHAPTER HOUSE continued that, because the whole thing had lost momentum for me by then.

I also really liked the Thomas Covenant books. They had a certain "cathartic" aspect that I found particularly poignant. (I thought the "how do you hurt someone who's lost everything? give him back something broken" idea was exquisitely gut-wrenching.) I don't know if I'd feel the same way about them if I started reading them now, though. I think part of their appeal had to do with where my heart was at the time.


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Lorien
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Hmm, well if it matters, Dune is one of my favorites. But, I couldn't get into the ones that come after. They were too much of what I lable "sci-fi weird". I definitly don't think the new ones that his son (I think) is writing capture any of what I found good in Dune. I was quite disapointed.

Thomas Covenant was different, and almost dispairing.


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yanos
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But that is what makes it so interesting. How can a man who has so little to look forward to, and who has shut himself off to the world gain redemption? The story is about despair, but also about hope and where it comes from. Covenant found something he was wiling to fight for. He was not fighting for himself but for the sake of beauty.

In many ways Lord Foul was a true evil master. As Kathleen said, the giving back something broken part was inspired. Lord Foul did not delight in death but in despair. He wanted to break others, to make them feel his own pain. He also made everyone dance to his tune. Plans within plans...


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goatboy
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Merchandising is where most of the money comes from. If you sell a million paperbacks and get 80 cents apiece, you have a nice sized pile of cash. If the movie people pick it up, you get an even nicer pile of cash. But, if the characters are licensed to make toys, you get a percentage of each one sold. That $9.95 movie dinosaur doll that every kid had to have put a whole lot of money into the original author's pocket. Not to mention money from the fake food the dinosaur had to eat, the dinosaurs seventeen saurian buddies the kids had to have, the box to carry them all in, the play mat to use them on and the Happy Meal that had miniature versions inside.

I believe the major money these days is in spin off toys. Which is why when Spiderman comes out the stores are flooded with dolls and toys and the big fast food chains are in bidding wars for rights.

OSC is doing exactly what I'd be doing if I were in his place.


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Magic Beans
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There's a tasteful way to do it that enhances the experience of reading the book or watching the movie, such as authentic replicas of the swords and ring from LOTR; and, there's a cheapening, stomach-souring way to do it, like the stupid Burger King tie-in drinking glasses with LOTR. They managed to do them both. Using Cafe Press seems a little cheap, to me, and I'm not thrilled with the quality of the artwork, but whatever.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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One other thing about merchandising is that if you get to that point with your creation, be absolutely sure that your copyright is registered with the Copyright Office.

When a creation gets to the point of merchandising, that's when it is most vulnerable to copyright infringement. If it's not at that point, the author really doesn't need to worry about registering the copyright.

Most publishers do the registering for the author (something you should make sure they put in your contract), but it really doesn't become crucial until large amounts of money are involved, and as goatboy says, that doesn't happen until the merchandising stage.


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goatboy
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I think the only reason I realize the potential of the merchandizing is I remember seeing an interview with Mark Hamill some years ago. In it, he lamented not getting a percentage of the merchandizing royalties for the first Star Wars movie. Seems no one expected Luke Skywalker dolls to be big sellers. Ouch.

Is a copyright sufficient protection? Or, do you need to Trademark the character's names? I guess my question is, is a copyright on the name "Ender" sufficient protection for merchandizing or does the name need to be trademarked? And then where do you stop tradmarking names? Would all of the individual character names as well as the book's name need to be done?


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Jules
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I'm not sure how copyright law applies to this, and my knowledge of trademark law is based on British law, but I believe it works the same way:

You don't have to register a trademark for it to be legally enforceable. All that is necessary is for you to sell something using it and somebody else to then use it in a way that is clearly trying to profit from what you've done before. So, in a sense, my understanding is that the kind of trademark protection you'd need over character names and appearances is pretty much automatic.


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Shanu
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To throw in my 2c (or two pence, I suppose) on _Dune_, I have to say that the sequels are astonishing works, and the Duneiverse lets Frank Herbert expand on and examine a lot of his ideas to a much greater extent than he manages to in his other, shorter novels (the closest would be the series begun with _Destination: Void_, which is also excellent).

Really, I'm a _Dune_ fanboy, so you're not likely to get an objective opinion from. I read DUNE before I was ten (not sure exactly how old), and rapidly followed that with all of the sequels. So if a pre-teen can handle them (even if I missed a lot of the stuff that Herbert was writing about), anyone can! They are perhaps fusty, overlong, and too prone to deliberation over philosophical quibbles - but I can't say I mind that.

As to the Brian Herbert / Kevin J. Anderson prequels - AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE. Lets just say that some examples of the idiocy in these novels involves stolen plots from _Star Trek_, the inclusion of no-technology a mere 8,000 years before it was invented, the undermining of the entire plot of _Dune_ and the ensuing chronicles, and some of the shittiest editing I've seen in supposedly professional novels.

And on the movies - Lynch's original movie is very dated now, and a somewhat bizarre adaptation in some ways. A lot of it was left on the cutting-room floor, so it doesn't quite match the original vision Lynch had (and Frank Herbert was on the set a lot of the time with this one, so his input was presumably substantial). As far as the atmosphere and baroque design goes - spot on! But there are elements I really don't like - let's just say the rain really flies in the face of all of the religious elements of the book and leave it at that.

The Sci-Fi channel miniseries is a much more faithful adaptation, but lacks the inspiration of Lynch's movie. It's still highly enjoyable, but it basically just gives you the plot of the book, and none of the depth, intrigue, culture, etc... but I've watched it about three times now, and considering it's about six hours long, that must mean I like it.

Okay, sorry to hurl such a massive post in there, especially when the topic seems to have moved on anyway.


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goatboy
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Hats off to JKR. According to this link, Harry Potter is now the 4th top earning fictional character, behind Micky Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Frodo Baggins.

http://biz.yahoo.com/weekend/fictional_1.html


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hoptoad
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Now that we know the title of book six (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) we find that Amazon.com cannot let you pre-order but will take your email address to notify you when you can pre-order. (!)

It is like a fore-preorder. Let us reflect on the kindness inherent in such an altruistic gesture.


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hoptoad
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Sorry to do two in a row, but another interesting thing is cover design and illustration.

Recently I was reading to my son (6yrs). We had read a little when something in the story made him yank the book from my hands and scrutinise the cover. When he was satisfied, he gave the book back to me with his sage prediction on the plot.

He was right.

Do you think the merchandise sometimes gives the game away? Consider the cover of Chamber of Secrets.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited October 25, 2004).]


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Magic Beans
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I think a good cover can create some anticipation. I was reading David Farland's Brotherhood of the Wolf just waiting for the creature on the cover to show up in the story.
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Jeraliey
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Ummm, what is it they say about um, books, and, uh, maybe whether or not cover judgements are, ummmmm, accurate?
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Magic Beans
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Judging a book by its cover is different than deciding to buy one. The decision to buy a book is based on the aesthetics of the cover, the power of the back cover blurb, which other authors you respect praise the book on the indside front pages, word-of-mouth from friends, and (hopefully) your impressions after reading the first few pages in the bookstore. Judging a book, on the other hand (and in my opinion), can only take place after the entire book has been read--maybe more than once. You cannot pass judgement based on incomplete knowledge, so you should read the entire book. Give yourself time to absorb the story's ramifications. Give yourself time to see how your experience of reading the story has affected you. At this point, the cover is indeed irrelevant.

[This message has been edited by Magic Beans (edited October 26, 2004).]


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goatboy
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Ah, the power of merchandising.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1541&ncid=1541&e=1&u=/afp/20041102/en_afp/afplifestyle_auction_britain_potter


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