Every book in the top ten of Dymocks’ annual top 101 Books for 2016 -- as voted by Australians -- has been made into a movie. (There is only one exception, The Rosie Project, which is currently being developed into a movie.) The Dymocks list is always an interesting way to look at people's reading habits and what stories people love to read. But this list seems to point to the fact that the average Australian reader mostly chooses to read books that are also movies.
Australian author Markus Zusak's The Book Thief holds the top spot for the third consecutive year. The Book Thief has sold 8 million copies and was adapted into a film starring Geoffrey Rush.
Twenty per cent of the books on the Top 101 are Australian, including The Dressmaker at No 12.
Penned by Rosalie Ham 15 years ago, the book surged in popularity following the success of last year's film adaptation, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth.
The Dressmaker is number 12 on the Dymocks Top 101 list, even though the book was published 15 years ago. Picture: Rosalie Ham
Author Aleesah Darlison told The Huffington Post Australia the average reader is more likely to purchase a book that they can also watch as a movie.
“They see it as validating that it must be a good read if it has been made into a film. Also, people like to compare to see if the movie is as good as the book, and vice versa. It’s natural to want to compare the book with the movie and see if the movie sticks to the truth of the original story," Darlison said.
“Personally, I like to read the book first. There is definitely that visual impact that a movie can have, particularly with special effects. But some people have brilliant imaginations where they can bring the book to life in their own minds and a movie can take away from that because, if you see the movie first, you are visualising the movie actors in your head and not what you might visualise the characters to look like. When I read Twilight, I didn’t want to see the film because then my head will be filled with Taylor Lautner! I wanted to see in my own mind what the characters would look like."
For any writer, having your book turned into a film is a ‘Holy Grail’ because the writer gets to access a whole other audience made up of people that don’t ordinarily read books. Author Katerina Cosgrove told HuffPost Australia most people who buy books that are ‘film-tie ins’ have seen the movie and want to read the book to get more details about the story.
“The readers who only buy a book after seeing the movie are not readers in the traditional sense. Those people probably don’t read voraciously. The people who make books that are film tie-ins best sellers are people who don’t ordinarily read fiction, they are just interested in stories, whether they are visual or written. Everyone is interested in stories but for a lot of people books are not accessible to them. Many people say, ‘I’m not a reader’ and then will only read a book if there is a movie-version," Cosgrove said.
“What we need to remember is movies and books are completely different art forms, not everybody will want to indulge in both."
Adult titles make up 65 per cent of the Top 101 list, with children's/young adult making up the remaining 35 percent. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the highest children’s book on the list at no. 6 (up one place from last year).
Fans of the series are eagerly awaiting the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on July 31st. Dymocks expects the book, which is a script, to break sales records not only with children but also with adult readers keen for another peek into the lives of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
For the first time, the list features a cook book (Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Superfood) and a colouring book (The Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford.)