Show has boosted sales of fantasy book series

HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” skein has boosted sales of the fantasy book series it is based on, even though the show doesn’t premiere until April 17.

The lengthy tomes by George R. R. Martin are approaching triple-digit growth in year-on-year sales, according to publisher Bantam Books.

The complex fantasy novels were already popular — the most recent volume (2005’s “A Feast for Crows”) hit the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list — and as Martin nears the end of the fifth in a projected series of seven, Bantam is looking forward to seeing the tie-ins boost sales further.

Not that tie-in editions have contributed to the current uptick in sales — they haven’t even shipped yet.

“We started seeing a bump last year just as it was announced — before anything was really released,” said Bantam paperbacks publisher Scott Shannon.

Bantam says it currently has 4.5 million copies of the books in print.

Barnes & Noble buyer James Killen told Variety that he expects further success for the fantasy epic.

“I believe that this television series will do for the novels what ‘True Blood’ has done for Charlaine Harris’ ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ series,” he said.

Harris’ Ace Books-published horror/romance novels made the leap onto the bestseller list after the series sent vampire fans flapping into bookstores, and now Bantam is reaping similar rewards. It helps, Shannon said, that booksellers like Martin’s writing — the series has a large following and book buyers are among them. Killen concurred, and predicted an uptick in sales not just of Martin’s books, but of similar novels. “Recently, much of the focus in fantasy has been fixed on vampires and werewolves, urban fantasy or paranormal romance,” he said. “I think the dark medieval fantasy of ‘Game of Thrones’ has the potential to revitalize interest in ambitious heroic epics.”

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