NPD: Book-to-SVOD Adaptations Don’t Always Boost Book Sales

A page-to-screen adaptation has typically been an easy way to boost a book’s sales. Some readers prefer to read a book before seeing it on screen, others are drawn to the book after they watch the story on screen, but it was widely believed that a movie or TV-show adaptation would reliably elevate a book’s long-term sales.

That predictable pattern is holding for original adaptations from streaming services, now that Netflix and other SVOD services have become mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group. However, not all page-to-screen releases on streaming services perform the same.

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NPD recently gathered streaming video data for Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and A Wrinkle in Time (Disney+), placing it alongside U.S. print books sales data from NPD BookScan. The side-by-side comparison revealed the effects of streaming video on book sales, providing additional insight into page-to- screen book sales.

“Book sales are generally bolstered by related video content appearing on Netflix and other streaming services, but the release timing, previous box-office movie releases, and other factors also play an important role,” analyst Kristen McLean said in a statement. “In some cases, when a high-profile original adaptation is released by a streaming service, the sales spike for related books is large and immediate. However, the same can’t be said for every show or movie, especially if the project had a previous release in some form.”

Bridgerton on Netflix has become the exemplar for what a streaming-native adaptation can do for a book series, boosting corresponding books sales by the thousands, according to the NPD. Interest in the book has continued, even after series viewing declined, with the TV tie-in book edition outperforming other formats.

The second book in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, experienced a delayed increase in sales as people first discovered the series, catching up as the “Bridgerton” SVOD interest spread.

“SVOD has definitely reached the point where it can generate the buzz to support integrated marketing campaigns that increase book sales, but it’s not always the case,” McLean said.

Indeed, the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time first premiered at the box office in February 2018, followed by its debut on Netflix in September 2018. The box office release had a big impact on book sales, pushing it to the top of the best-seller list for kids throughout 2018, but the move to Netflix (now on Disney+) had a far less dramatic impact on additional book sales.

“It is likely that those who were most engaged with A Wrinkle in Time purchased the book alongside the theatrical release during the initial marketing period, and sales and readership for the story were already saturated by the time the show hit Netflix,” McLean said. “Original content tends to have a stronger impact on SVOD viewing and consumer discovery, which pays dividends with book sales.”

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