Investigated – The Popularity of Books with Adaptations

Posted September 1, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 4 Comments


I went on vacation and discovered this…

Newspaper Best Sellers

If you can’t read the picture above, it is a list of the nations best sellers according to USA Today. The top three books on the list are If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Now this paper is from August 20, 2014, so it’s a few weeks old. But that’s not the point. The point is that I was kind of surprised at the top three best sellers. The top three were all YA books. I don’t see that often (then again, I don’t check the best sellers list often either, so…). What do all three of these books have in common? Well, they all have book to movie adaptations that have been released. (Note: If I Stay,the movie had not yet been released in the US.) So the real question is not what all those books have in common, it’s how can being adapted into a movie increase the popularity of the book.

Now this may be sad, but to me, it’s kind of true. In today’s world, movies are a lot more popular than books. The sadder part is that books don’t usually get a whole lot of recognition until they have been considered to be adapted into a movie (or a TV show) and thus more exposed to other people. Think about it. Hunger Games, Divergent, heck, even The Fault in Our Stars weren’t really “famous” until it was announced they were being adapted. I’m not saying they weren’t popular before (they were, that’s why they were optioned to be turned into movies), but they didn’t really explode until their adaptations had been confirmed. And then I had to suffer the following months with people constantly talking about how good Fault is or how brave Katniss is or telling me I should read Divergent when I have been telling them the same exact thing for the past three years. What about the anticipation of a movie adaption makes people want to read the book? Especially when these days some kids will watch the movie version of a require reading book instead of reading it.

Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that usually only books that are already somewhat popular get adapted. By having people who have already read the book and are fans of it, there usually is a lot of talk about the casting of characters we have only previously envisioned in our heads, how scenes only we have pictured in our imaginations will play out on the big screen, and most importantly, how true the adaptation will stay to the book. People can be curious and they also like to stay in the loop. And by reading the book (and the rest of its series, if applicable), they will have an idea of what everyone else is talking about. Also, there is the added benefit that if the movie ends with a cliffhanger and they have read the next book, they will have an idea of what will happen next.

What do you think?
Why do you think adaptations make more people want to read the book(s)?



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4 responses to “Investigated – The Popularity of Books with Adaptations

  1. I think for people who really aren’t a part of the book world when a book is made into a movie it’s the first time it’s brought to their attention. The movie gives them a deadline to read the book, or if they see the movie first it gives them a reason to.
    That being said, I bet that a lot of people who buy the book before the movie never get around to reading it. They want to get in on the hype but sometimes life gets in the way.

    Christina @ Between Bookends recently posted: Back to Hogwarts Week: Why Quidditch Matters
    • I agree with everything you said, especially the part about trying to get in on the hype. I just wish it didn’t take a book to movie adaptation for people to feel like they should give a book a try.

      Thanks for stopping by Christina! 🙂

  2. Em

    Movie adaptations definitely make people want to read the books. I read The Hunger Games close to when it was first released, and way before I had ever heard that there was going to be a movie…..And it only took a little while for me to start hearing “you should read The Hunger Games it is soooo good”….And I laughed inside because I had read The Hunger Games before it was “famous”. I personally didn’t read Divergent until I heard about an adaptation, but I had heard of it….And it had been on my to-be-read list already for a while.

    • Haha, I have a similar story, except mine was with Divergent. It was soo annoying… hello I’ve been telling you to read that book for ages now and it takes a movie to make you actually do it.

      Thanks for stopping by Em! 😀