I had an interesting conversation with a friend over the 4th of July weekend. The internet has been abuzz recently with speculation about when fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire can expect to see the next book in the series.
And people have been freaking out. Practically trembling with excitement.
Now I’ve never read the books, but I love “Game of Thrones,” so my friend and I got to discussing how amazing it was that the books and television show seem to feed off each other. It’s generally accepted that movie adaptations of books drive book sales up, at least for a time, but we weren’t discussing sales. Rather, we were talking about the mania surrounding the whole series.
It’s really quite remarkable. The books compel readers to watch the show, and the show sends viewers to the bookstore. It’s been parodied, on talk shows, and all over the internet. So what makes it work?
There are many other instances of this phenomenon. Virtually every movie adaptation of a comic book seems to cause an uproar at Comic Con and comic bookstores across the nation. Harry Potter. The Hunger Games. And the reverse is true too, if less frequently. Star Wars has countless comic books and novelizations with a wide readership—more than 30 years after the original film.
I think we can safely say that any of the examples above aren’t simply a series, but a franchise. So again, I’ll ask, only somewhat rhetorically: what makes it work?