WSJ sheds a tiny bit of light on the Star Wars publishing program


The Wall Street Journal writes about how Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization won’t be available in hardcover until January – something we’ve known since April. (The ebook will be out on December 18, along with the movie.) It was, not surprisingly, due to a request from Lucasfilm:

David Moench, the Del Rey spokesman, said the publisher would have preferred to put out the hardcover edition out on the day the movie opens in order to capture more sales.

“We would love to release both formats of the novelization simultaneously and not miss the holidays,” he said, “but we recognize the importance of protecting the story for the fans.”

Apparently, fans still prefer the physical books:

“It’s a collector’s mentality,” said Scott Shannon, Del Rey’s publisher. The “Star Wars” titles the publisher has issued have “way over-indexed” in terms of physical book sales to digital copies, said Mr. Shannon.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of information: Del Rey has sold more than 1.2 million Star Wars books in the past twelve months. (Only Aftermath and Lords of the Sith get namechecked.) That number extends to 70 million over the life of the license (including Bantam). It’s not clear if that number goes back to 1977 or 1991, but I suspect ’77. It would be interesting to see the numbers for at least the previous novelizations, but alas.

Fun fact: Although many Star Wars books have made it onto the New York Times’ Best Seller list, only four have made it to #1: The Return of the Jedi Storybook by Joan D. Vinge, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, The Phantom Menace novelization by Terry Brooks and (go figure) The Force Unleashed novelization by Sean Williams.

11 Replies to “WSJ sheds a tiny bit of light on the Star Wars publishing program”

      1. i would have expected that he gave some nebulous secrecy order which LFL took to mean no copies can be printed until movie releases, and took that to DR. so probably what he wanted, but he never got confirmation that it was done.

        1. I don’t think he has quite that much power over the licensing aspect of the film, although I’m sure there were discussions with Kennedy and others who do.

    1. It’s pretty easy to bypass the subscriber stuff on WSJ: Just grab something distinctive (I use the deck) and Google it. If you go through Google you get the full story.

  1. There may have only been a few NY Times bestsellers, but I remember way more than that being on the Barnes & Noble bestseller lists.

  2. Of note: the sales figures quoted are for the U.S. and Canada only. Pretty sure the U.K. and European publications alone would add significantly to those stats; it’s a pity they’re not included (despite technically being from a different publisher).

    Also, I wonder if they include sales to the U.K. of the USA versions (which can sometimes be obtained thought Amazon UK if you’re fast enough)…

    Thanks for the article link, James.

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