More TV Shows Offering Reasons To Buy; Castle's Successful Character-Written Novel

from the creative-business-models dept

We always hear from people that certain types of digital content can't come up with scarce "reasons to buy," and yet we always seem to hear of new and creative ways that it's being done anyway. Back in December we wrote about how the TV sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had turned ridiculous on-air products into the real thing and they were selling quite well. Now, PrometheeFeu points out that the popular ABC TV show Castle has come out with a real book supposedly by the lead character in the show, who (in the TV show) is a professional writer. Not only that, but the book itself has hit the NY Times best seller list. Now, it's not entirely clear who wrote the book (when asked, the producers of the show insist that it was the character in the program), but the book has gotten decent reviews and ABC is pitching the book on its website (including free chapter downloads). One assumes that ABC likely gets a cut of the sales as well. It's yet another neat attempt to combine an infinite good with a scarce one to make that scarce one more valuable. I would imagine that the book wouldn't sell nearly as well if it hadn't been tied to such a TV program.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    My parents are both fans of the show and my mom bought a copy of the book for my dad this Christmas. He said it wasn't bad (but not great either).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 7:01pm


    This will only work for popular television shows on unpopular networks the feature a male character who is a writer. Where's the model, Mike?

    Sorry...just had to get that one out of the way....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    reboog711 (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    The TV Soap Opera Passions did this a while back.

    My memory is a bit hasy, but I think the book was written by Timmy [the midget Doll by] under the guise of Tabitha [the witch who lost her witch powers] so they could pay back taxes on the place they lived in. Normally Tabitha would "magic" away the tax burden; but for some reason she lost her power and couldn't.

    It included tons of secrets and was the talk of the "Show" for the summer it came out.

    Why do I know this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    JustinH_TX (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 7:15pm

    ...but can you buy it on the Kindle?

    ...even if you can't, I thought we all understood that while dead trees may be scarce goods, text is not.

    I guess it is interesting in a "hey, look... they managed to sell something" kind of way, but I don't see this as progress towards monetizing artistic creation in the Internet age.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    RD, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 7:16pm


    But Mike, you CANT make money selling t-shirts!!! It CANT work!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    TechDan (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Castle is fantastic

    I'm watching Season 1 now. Might have to give this a look.

    Bravo to ABC for trying it, whether it works out or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    :), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 8:41pm

    No access.

    I have no way to see those shows(legally), so I don't see them and couldn't tell anybody about that sorry.

    But I can tell people about the new webseries that launched some time ago Riese the Series.

    Or the new open movies that are popping up.

    Still giving money to ABC doesn't seems right is more then that right now, is about privacy, rights, uses and others things and although ABC is being creative I'm encourage to promote copyrighted stuff unless it comes with an open license.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    :), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    No access.

    I'm not encourage to promote copyrighted stuff unless it comes with an open license.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jim L, Jan 18th, 2010 @ 9:06pm

    Newspaper Advertisment

    Big fan of the way they do Twitter @WriteRCastle
    Especially when they were on hiatus. Little mini stories.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Brendan (profile), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

    Sex scene?

    I hope it includes the steamy sex scene they continually bring up in the show.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    roger, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 5:33am

    Lost already did that

    Lest you forget, the early seasons of Lost included a bunch of hidden material in the form of fake commercials, online websites that were 'hackable' and a book that was supposedly written by a character on the flight, but so far has never been mentioned. The book was supposed to be a 'fictional' account of the family Penny was from. In any case, that book sold a ton.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Re: Lost already did that

    the book does come up, sawyer finds the manuscript and is just about the end when someone (kate?) throws it away to get his attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jan 19th, 2010 @ 6:24am


    Probably because you watched five minutes of the show one season, from which get a pretty good idea what happens the entire year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    JustMe (profile), Jan 19th, 2010 @ 6:54am

    Re: Dark Helmet

    Srsly? Take a look at all of the Firefly / Serenity stuff that has been produced *after* the show went off the air, not to mention about 500 Trek books from each of the series (which themselves split off in to sub-genres and also launched Shatner as an author).

    The opportunities are endless. For example, why not have the creators of the proto Cylons in Caprica issue blueprints and tech stuff? There are enough Battlestar otaku that it would break even, as well as giving people another reason to tune in. There, you can have that one for free, Internets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Glenn, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Just a creative way...

    to offer an episode for the show that didn't actually make it into the show. It's a good short story. I wish some of the already canceled shows had "published" some episodes of planned shows that never made it to production. I'd be more than happy to read about the continuing adventures of Eli & Maggie, for instance, if well-written.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 19th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    So when I wrote my blog post, I had not yet read the book and I can confirm that it is unlikely that the book in and of itself would have been that popular. The writing is average, but that's not the point. I am happy I got this not because I got a great work of literature. I am happy I got it, because I got a physical book written by Castle, that character from a show I love. And that is why the real book is not in competition with PDFs on The Pirate Bay.

    The book is basically another episode of the show with the same characters with different names and yes, that steamy sex scene with Nikki Heat. (More than one actually) And in the typical fashion of the show, it mixes the predictable with the unexpected enough to keep you wondering who's going to end up in jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    ed, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Fan of the show and bought the book

    I didn't watch the first season of Castle last year, didn't really follow it at all so I didn't even know about the book tie in.

    However, after hearing the Castle buzz on the Internets, I used "alternative means" to watch the first season so I could catch up and start watching the second season, and now I'm a fan. I just bought the books a couple of days ago.

    Of course, if I constrained myself to only normal channels of distribution I probably would have never even watched the show.

    As a side note, I tried to buy the book while on vacation in Florida a couple of weeks ago and two "national" booksellers I went to were both sold out so I had to wait to pick it up this week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    DS, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Wow, it only took how many years to catch up to Twin Peaks, and almost every sci-fi tv series ever made?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Stephen, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    hardly groundbreaking

    There are plenty of books by Agatha, another writer, from "Murder She Wrote." Twin Peaks had Dale Cooper's and Laura Palmer's diaries. To name a few.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Dark Helmet

    Heh...he was being sarcastic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 19th, 2010 @ 6:07pm

    Books have a future?

    So if you can use a book as a way to monetize a TV show, then print book publishing will stick around?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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