By all accounts, the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a huge success in 2017. Counterintuitively, the Margaret Atwood novel it was based on has been a constant on bestseller lists. Hadn’t people gotten the story from watching the show?
In fact, this was the case for a number of projects: filmed entertainment drove book sales. That trend will continue — and grow — in 2018.
Two major factors are driving the trend. First, for a book to reach a mass audience, to get to the person who doesn’t regularly visit a neighborhood bookstore, it needs a push. Sometimes it’s a viral, snowballing hit — suddenly everyone is reading “The Da Vinci Code” or “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” or “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Other times, it’s when Oprah picks a book for her book club. Right now, the most reliable way to reach that plateau is with a film or television show.
And with all the platforms delivering our filmed entertainment — streaming services and movie theaters, cable television and our phones — there is more content than ever. To fill the demand, more and more books are providing the stories and source material for what we’ll be seeing.
The trend isn’t just about volume, though. What the popularity of the book “The Handmaid’s Tale” shows us is that when people are given a rich story to see, they want to explore and understand it more deeply. And for that, they turn to the book.