Are Novelizations Doomed?

Slate wonders if novelizations are endangered species:

novelizations have been supplanted by big-selling tie-ins—original novels based on existing properties such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, or Halo—and the Internet. In a DVD world, the idea of using a book to relive the pleasures of a film is practically counterintuitive.

[…]The home-theater revolution may have wiped out a large part of the novelization market, but the lessons learned may wind up sustaining the genre. When DVDs first arrived, the studios quickly realized that they could get fans to "double dip" by issuing a bare-bones release of a movie and then following it with a "Deluxe Edition" loaded with special features. Now it looks like literary special features—expanded back stories, cut scenes, and deleted characters—might just make the novelization relevant again.

3 thoughts on “Are Novelizations Doomed?”

  1. Being both a reader and a movie lover, novelizations were a large part of my reading when I was a kid. (Was there a late 70s early 80s Science-Fiction movie that didn’t have a novelization by Alan Dean Foster?) But the explosion of the video rental market in the 80s pretty much killed them off. Nowadays only film franchises that have a built in readership (i.e. comic book movies and those with thriving media novel spin-off series) get novelizations.
    Although there is a novelization of Snakes on a a Plane out there.

  2. ~~ “(Was there a late 70s early 80s Science-Fiction movie that didn’t have a novelization by Alan Dean Foster?)” ~~
    I loved Foster’s “Star Trek: The Animated Series” novelizations! Especially when they morphed from “novelization” to full-out “tie-in” with brand new storylines based on the episodes!

  3. Much as I used to love novelizations in the pre-VHS days (I even read the novelization of the movie version of GREASE — which dutifully set out the lyrics to all of the songs), I agree that they are an anachronism — with two exceptions. The first is where the book expands on the movie’s storyline in interesting ways. The second is where the author has a connection with the movie’s source material — e.g., Batman comics writer Dennis O’Neil’s novelization of BATMAN BEGINS, or Burl Barer’s novelization of THE SAINT.


Leave a Comment