Saturday, September 8, 2007

HBO Embraces Tie-Ins

When you think of tie-ins, you probably imagine one movie novelization or one of the hundreds of STAR TREK original novels. But now tie-ins are going up-market. Publisher's Weekly reports that HBO is aggressively developing it's TV tie-in publishing program. They are hoping to repeat the success of cleverly-packaged and hugely successful books like SEX AND THE CITY: KISS AND TELL, which was sold in a fake alligator shoebox.

HBO v-p of licensing and retail James Costos, who joined the company in July 2006, said he has a mandate to “raise awareness for all of our licensed merchandise, which certainly includes books.” Costos said the cable channel is looking to highlight the HBO book line by taking advantage of its midtown New York retail store, Web site and newsletters, as well as through its broadcasts.

Almost all of the HBO titles come from Melcher Media and the distinctive packaging of their tie-ins come with a hefty price-tag for consumers. But that hasn't slowed sales. In fact, it's a selling point.

Melcher Media president Charles Melcher contends that HBO titles “reinvented the TV tie-in, which used to be priced under $20 and mostly filled with old scripts.” HBO titles like Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills or Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Book, said Melcher, can sometimes feature scholarly research but, most importantly, they all have the complete involvement of the shows' casts of actors.

“HBO wants the books to be more than just a way to make money,” Melcher said. “They want their creative people to be happy. Like the TV shows, these aren't just books; they're HBO books.”

Upcoming HBO tie-in titles getting the "high-end" treatment are The Sopranos: The Complete Book, ' Entourage: A Lifestyle Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, and Rome.

“The books are an extension of the shows and a natural must-have for fans and viewers. The revenue will follow if we continue to deliver quality books,” said Costos.