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Publishers bank on Hollywood

THREE novels that were adapted into Academy Award-winning films will be published or repackaged in the Chinese mainland in the next two months.

Local publishers and bookstores are hoping to capitalize on the success of "Slumdog Millionaire," "Revolutionary Road" and "The Reader" to sell Chinese translations of the books that the films were based on.

The publishers bought the Chinese mainland copyrights of these novels at low prices long before the films won awards on Oscars night, but are using the awards to market the books.

"Slumdog," the winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, was inspired from the English novel "Q&A" by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. Since the film was nominated for awards at the Golden Globes in January, the book was repackaged with the film's title.

The Writers Publishing House in Beijing bought the Chinese copyrights last year for a little over US$2,000. Chen Xiaofan, editor of the book's Chinese translation, said he was attracted by the unique narrative structure.

"I was just attracted by it, among hundreds of foreign books I get every day," Chen said. "At the time, the book wasn't famous in China and no other publishing houses bid for the copyright."

The publishing house originally scheduled to publish the Chinese version in May, but has pushed the release date to this month to cash in on the film's Hollywood success.

"Revolutionary Road" will be available in Chinese bookstores in April. Chongqing Publishing Group bought this 1961 Richard Yates novel in 2006 for a little more than US$1,000, but never found a chance to print it.

"We believed that Chinese white collars would find some similarities with the characters in 'Revolutionary Road,' the bourgeois in America," said Li Jie, a former editor at the group who purchased the Chinese rights to the novel.

The book was held for three years due to a lack of a selling point. But now that the film attracted attention through the Golden Globe and the Academy awards, Chongqing Publishing sees a chance. The film stars Kate Winslet. The publishing group is deciding on the book's cover and will launch the Chinese translation in April at the latest.

The German novel "The Reader" ("Der Vorleser") by law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink inspired the film of the same title, which also stars Winslet, who won the Best Actress award at the Oscars.

Nanjing-based Yilin Press published the novel in 2005 and sold about 50,000 copies. Editor Yuan Nan said they bought the Chinese copyright early at a cheap price as well. Yilin repackaged the novel after the Oscars and the new version is now in bookstores.


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