One of our local papers has been running a big Harry Potter promo over the last few weeks, obviously in line with the new movie. I was watching the kids as they were sorting through all the various merchandising guff (mainly collector's cards but also other stuff like wands) and thinking about the relationship between books and merchandising.
The main thing I'm always wondering is - is the merchandising necessary? Can the book (or movie) stand by itself or does it need to have all of this other stuff associated with it, most of which truly is junk that will be tossed away pretty quickly. It's not a new thought - I actually wrote a story about it a couple of years ago (which I might just post up here). But it makes me wonder about whether any creative entity (book or otherwise) can be a viable financial product on its own or it needs the assistance of all these other revenue streams.
But then again, maybe I'm better off just stopping my wondering and going with the program. Maybe I need to start looking at merchandising opportunities for my books.
I have to admit it's not that easy. Doodling, my first self-published title is about a man who falls off the world and goes wandering through an asteroid field meeting a bunch of oddballs on the way. The merchandising ideas don't exactly spring to mind. Maybe I could have Doodling mobiles that hang from people's ceilings, complete with each of the asteroids in the story and a little Neville (my main character) floating around them. On one of the asteroids there's a group who worship toasters, so maybe I could sell "Toaster People" toasters. Or why stop at toasters (the Toaster People didn't). I could end up with a whole range of Doodling kitchen appliances.
I'm thinking I may be better off waiting for my next release, Flidderbugs - it's a kind-of political satire about a bunch of insects. Now that sounds much easier doesn't it. There's heaps of things I can think of. Flidderbugs fly-swatters. Flidderbugs bug-catchers. Flidderbugs insect repellant. Even a Flidderbugs version of that Beetle game that my kids love - the one where you spin a spinner and build a beetle.
So what do you reckon? Is merchandising an essential part of the marketing equation these days? As a reader, what sort of merchandising would make you want to buy a book? As a writer, what merchandising opportunities would work for you?