Overlook Sees Portis Boost from 'Grit' By Rachel Deahl Nov 16, 2010
The Coen Brothers' forthcoming adaptation of Charles Portis's True Grit has brought the celebrated, if reclusive, author back into the headlines...and onto readers' bookshelves. Overlook, Portis's publisher, has seen strong sales on its tie-in edition of the book, which it published on November 4. The indie house went to press for 100,000 copies of the edition--it features, as the house's previous edition did, an afterward by Donna Tartt, with updated cover art that references the movie. A rep from Overlook predicted that a second printing of the tie-in will happen before Christmas.
The Coens' film, which is scheduled to open wide on December 22, has also ignited an interest in Portis's backlist. Overlook's Jack Lamplough said the press "rescued" Portis's backlist a few years ago. Portis is known, Lamplough said, as America's "greatest 'unknown' author," and now Overlook is seeing a sales spark in other Portis titles like The Dog of the South, Gringos, Masters of Atlantis, and Norwood.
While movie adaptations are expected to spark sales for their print source material, Lamplough thinks the Coens' adaptation is a unique example of how a movie can help a book. True Grit, Portis's best known novel, was in some ways overshadowed by the popular 1968 John Wayne film of the same name, a film which veered in tone and content from the book. According to Lamplough, though, the Coens' have stayed closer to Portis's book than the Wayne western, and they've been talking that fact up. "The Coen Brothers and [their] stars Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon have repeatedly said the new movie takes its inspiration from the Portis novel, and not the 1968 movie starring John Wayne," Lamplough said.
Overlook has also been doing its part to publicize the book. The house launched a True Grit Facebook page and Lamplough said the house is working with Paramount on a publicity campaign that pushes both the movie and the book. To that end, an interview with Overlook publisher Peter Mayer will be featured on the planned DVD edition of the film.