Why can’t books be more like movies?

Some books have introductions, I’ll grant you. Typically they’ll only be included if a book is especially old, or has been turned into a successful movie(1). Other than that, I’m struggling to think of examples(2) where publishers have learned the marketing lessons of the movie industry and started including Special Features to help market and sell books(3).

Some common extras found by reading the back of a few of the nearby films in my writing room include:

  • Releasing more than one version with different covers. Call one of them a “Special Edition”
  • Releasing a “Director’s Cut” three years later(4)
  • Deleted scenes(5)
  • Alternate endings
  • Interviews with the actors(6)
  • Audio commentary(7)
  • Trailers(8)(9)
  • Music videos
  • “Making of” featurettes(10)
  • Bloopers reel(11)
  • Interactive quizzes / games(12)
  • Digital copies to download(13)

Is there a space for these things in books? Would you pay a little extra for a book because it had an alternate ending? I doubt I would, so I wonder why they’re so prevalent in the film biz.

(1) – In the case of First Blood by David Morrell (later filmed as the “moderately” successful first installment of the Rambo franchise), the introduction completely reveals the ending of the book and I advise you not to read it until the end.

(2) – Perhaps the reader’s notes in really old literature (such as Dickens) which help explain the idioms, regional and temporal significance, and Ye Olde Englishe language would count?

(3) – I’m assuming here that there *is* a correlation between adding Special Features to a DVD or Blu-ray and its sales.

(4) – Presumably correcting typos and removing some of the abridgements that your agent, editor and publisher all insisted you make to reduce the length of your debut novel.

(5) – Ie, the crap not good enough to make the final movie.

(6) – In literary terms, this could be interviews with the people you based characters on without telling them.

(7) – Which I’m kind of emulating here with footnotes.

(8) – Why do movies include these? They are pure advertising and you’ve bought the damn thing already.

(9) – Trailers for other movies are perhaps more understandable, but who watches those? Actually, I suppose these *are* kind of used in books, in the form of adding the first chapter of “the next exciting thriller by…” at the end. Those irritate me for several reasons: a) it means the book I’ve actually paid for is about 25 pages shorter than I thought it was, and b) I don’t want to start a book and then wait 3 months to read chapter 2.

(10) – Perhaps you could include interviews with people who work in the Starbucks near your house and who didn’t moan when you made that last inch of stone cold non-fat latte last for about 45 minutes?

(11) – Have a version of one of your chapters with all the autocorrect spellings reverted to their original perversions? A list of all the different attempts to phrase a single sentence and a glimpse into the agony it brings (see my previous post for more on this)? Why people find these funny for movies is beyond me.

(12) – Include a themed crossword (or wordsearch for lazier readers)! Actually, all flippancy aside, I’d probably quite enjoy this one.

(13) – Come to think of it, being able to download an eBook copy if you’ve bought the paperback is a pretty cool idea.