Turnaround on Spin-Offs | Newberry

Turnaround on Spin-Offs

Let’s see here. If you choose, you can get a jigsaw puzzle, a cookbook, a jokebook, a book explaining the political ramifications, a parody, a book explaining the business and management theories, several trivia books, an art book, a book analyzing the literary principles, a book explaining the life skills lessons, a line of graphic novels, a set of Tarot cards, a Monopoly game, a bar guide, a seal with sealing wax, and a guide to hair braiding…to name but a few.

In case you haven’t heard about it, Game of Thrones is a major phenomenon.

And even leaving aside all of the guides to the TV series, you can also look over a batch of unbilled spinoffs, like this book about Queen Elizabeth II, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter-in-law, called A Game of Crowns. I’m rather sorry the cookbook isn’t called Game of Scones. (Save that one for next year’s edible book contest.)

This merchandising game of clones has been going on for decades. We had a magazine in from 1939 which advertised genuine Gone With the Wind cufflinks. The connection of silent movies to sheet music may not be obvious, but, of course, silent movies were screened to the accompaniment of an organist, pianist, or full orchestra. So sheet music sales always went along with a blockbuster movie. My own favorite was “The Perfect Song”, originally sold as the theme song from D.W. Griffith’s controversial “Birth of a Nation” and later, in a moment of great historic irony, was sold as the theme song for “Amos ‘n’ Andy”.

In any case, when a book becomes a blockbuster movie or TV series, tie-ins flock fast and thick, like mosquitoes around a new body on the beach. At length, the juice will be gone, and the mosquitoes will be off to take advantage of the next trend, leaving in their wake a litter of jigsaw puzzles, cookbooks, jokebooks, books explaining the political ramifications, and so forth. Unless you are one of those people with a sociological tone of mind, the question which leaps to your mind when you think about this is “Are they collectible? Should I buy up these tie-ins and oddities for my granddaughter’s college fund?”

If you are a regular reader of this column, you already know that the answer is “Sort of.”

Of course, anything is collectible if enough people collect it. THAT does not guarantee value. A lot of people have to WANT it for it to be of value. And if demand wildly exceeds supply, you’ve got your college fund.

Take Star Wars. There was a book, you know, published in paperback for the mass market and in hardcover for the Science Fiction Book Club types. These wound up selling by the millions. You can get a LITTLE extra for it if you got the very early issues with the art from the poster (in which the characters didn’t look a lot like the actors because everybody at the studio said “Nobody knows these guys: why do we care what they look like?”) Your best bet is one of those action figures nobody else bought. Don’t go looking for it NOW: you should’ve bought it at the time, or thirty years ago, when prices dropped.

This is one of the main facts when it comes to pop culture. What is red hot now will be cold and blue in about five years. THIS is the point at which people will be dumping their books on “Who Mounts the Iron Throne?” or “Who Survives the Sixth Harry Potter book?” You can buy these cheaply enough just now, and they MIGHT be a good investment.

See, every pop culture icon worth its weight makes it through the musty action figure in the back of the closet stage. There comes a “Whatever Happened To” period, when people say “Hey, remember when Barnabas Collins was the coolest thing on the air?” You can ignore this period. It will not improve the value of those books and sealing wax kits in the safe deposit box.

You’re waiting for the day when a brave but foolhardy soul comes up with sequels. The novel Scarlett, for example…well, at least it didn’t hurt interest in Gone With the Wind. (It should be a GOOD sequel.) But about the time the grandson of the author or the niece of the star of the movie comes out and says “I know this is what my late dear one would have approved”, THEN you start looking at prices on eBay.

So if you can hang onto that Game of Thrones guide to hair braiding until the 3-D remake is appearing in android exchange centers near you, your granddaughter can go to college. (Unless she’d rather braid her hair and watch the series of course. Kids!)

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