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Presentation Details


Book-to-Screen Literary Adaptations and the Content Economy

Simone Murray.

Screen adaptations of books have long functioned as a mainstay of mainstream cinema production. But since the 1997 Academy Awards success of The English Patient, Hollywood studios - in particular Miramax - have competed vigorously to exploit up-market literary bestsellers as source material for film adaptations: Oscar and Lucinda (1997), Regeneration (1997), Beloved (1998), All the Pretty Horses (2000), Captain Corellis Mandolin (2001), The Shipping News (2001), Last Orders (2001), Possession (2002), The Hours (2002), and Cold Mountain (currently in production).

Important economic and marketing developments in the converged media industries underpin this trend. As book publishers are increasingly acquired by conglomerates with holdings in all media formats, managerial executives seek to maximise synergies by keeping all incarnations of a prime content brand within the conglomerate. Moreover, marketing divisions of conglomerate media are attracted by the brand-name recognition enjoyed by literary bestsellers, and are more willing to invest in further development of an already proven content property.

Post-1997 literary adaptations reveal a longing not only for the cultural cachet of prize-winning novels, but more surprisingly for the associations of the book format - the intimacy of the reading experience, habits of repeat consumption, and the concept of a like-minded readerly community. The paradox is that this filmic nostalgia for the book experience has occurred during the precise period in which books came to represent an ever-decreasing revenue component of media conglomerates operations. Analysing the implications of the literary adaptation trend for the future of the book within a digital media economy, the paper suggests that ideas of the book as a content generator and consumer experience may now be superseding the books inherited role as the West's dominant information architecture.


Simone Murray  (Australia)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of English, Media Studies and Art History
The University of Queensland School of English, Media Studies and Art History

Dr Simone Murray is an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland.
She researches and publishes in the areas of digital media content, public-service media, gender in contemporary book publishing, and publishing history.
Simone is currently in the second year of a federal government-funded research project analysing the multiformatting of content in the digital media environment, especially as this relates to book publishing.

  • Book-to-screen
  • Literary bestseller
  • Film adaptation
  • Content
  • Brand

(30 min Conference Paper, English)