Could there be better news for booksellers? Stephenie Meyer's new novella, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" – linked to her mega-popular "Twilight" series – will go on sale on June 5. And, at the same time, Bloomsbury, the British publisher of the "Harry Potter" books is hoping to lure a new generation of readers by releasing the ever-beloved J.K. Rowling series with redesigned covers.
Meyer says that she originally envisioned "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" – which deals with a character introduced in "Eclipse," the third book of the "Twilight" series – as part of "The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide." But eventually the 192-page book developed a life of its own.
The marketing of the new book will be interesting. Hardcover copies will go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, June 5 – with e-book sales beginning a few hours later at 6 a.m. But as a gift to her fans, Meyer is also making "Bree" available free of charge on a dedicated website, from June 7 to July 5.
There's an added incentive, however, to actually buy the book. Meyer has promised that one dollar from each book sold from the book's first 1.5 million printing (or two years from the pub date, whichever comes sooner) will go to the American Red Cross International Response Fund to support disaster relief efforts, including those in Haiti and Chile.
Good marketing? Of course! "Hey, did we mention that "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" just happens to arrive in theaters a few short weeks [after the book's release date], on June 30?" asks a Washington Post blog, which goes on to wonder if that "coincidence" means the book isn't "just another marketing tool for the movie franchise?"
The other way of looking at it is to suggest that publishers of hugely popular books would be crazy not to go for as many bites of the apple as they can. MediaBistro raises a similar question about the announcement from "Harry Potter" publisher Bloomsbury that the enormously successful series will be released as part of a new "Signature" edition on Nov. 1.
The publisher says the books – clad with new covers – are intended to "appeal to the next generation of readers who did not grow up" with the series. "No coincidence at all," deadpans MediaBistro, "that this announcement came immediately at the same time as the company released its sales figures for the previous year, showing a 39% decline thanks to not having a new Potter book out there in stores."
Of course they did. My question would be: Why not?
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.