Did you read the book from that movie?

New Radar blogger Brett McLaughlin is the executive editor of O’Reilly’s Head First books and a Java developer-turned-author.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that media is changing the way books are viewed. In fact, video – and YouTube in particular – has already changed how books are sold. Most big fiction releases are heralded by short “book trailers” that give an almost movie-like feel to the contents of the book.

But in a recent article published by the Christian Science Monitor, I was surprised to see that there’s an even more notable link between movies and the sale of books:

In the upcoming Christian movie “Fireproof”, screenwriters created a book as plot point. The movie tells the story of Caleb Holt, a firefighter with a troubled marriage. To help prevent divorce, Caleb’s dad suggests he read a book called “The Love Dare.”

The book changes Caleb’s view of marriage and transforms his life. As soon as preview audiences saw the film, they began flooding bookstores with inquiries.

The only problem: The book didn’t exist.

It does now, however.

Brothers and associate pastors Alex and Stephen Kendrick, also co-directors and producers of “Fireproof,” sat down and penned such a book in the space of a few weeks. It hasn’t hit bookstores yet but has already sold 300,000 copies and may go on to become the bestselling Christian book of 2008.

This is pretty remarkable. Keep in mind, we’ve long seen books-turned-into-movies re-released with movie-centric covers. We’ve seen movies come out, and then books released that are adaptations of the movie, in cases where the movie’s based on an original screenplay. But books that happen to be featured in movies? That’s a new one.

Is this an isolated case? Or perhaps a phenomenon related more to religion and self-help tomes? Not so much; from the same article:

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the story of the “Sex and the City” book. When Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) sat in bed reading a book called “Love Letters from Great Men” in a scene in the film, women viewers everywhere decided they needed a copy.

Again: As the press was quick to report, the book didn’t actually exist. (At least not with that title.)

But there was something close enough: a 1920s title called “Love Letters of Great Men and Women” reissued last year by Kessinger Publishing. On the strength of the movie, the book suddenly became a hot item for booksellers.

So what does this mean for publishing as an industry? Even more poignantly, what does this mean for learning books; the sort of books that O’Reilly and other technology, math, science, educational, etc. publishers routinely put out?

I’m not completely sure, although I plan on positing a few ideas in the coming days… but one thing that is clear: the competition for a book sale is no longer just other good books. Movies, videos on YouTube, even the latest Metal Gear Solid game on PlayStation 3 are increasingly key competitors. They’re informing buyers about what to buy, in very unique and surprising ways.

And when the competition is no longer just books, everything changes… whether we acknowledge it or not. Anyone – or any company – that doesn’t realize and react is going to be hurting before decade’s end.

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