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Random House's page-and-screen website

November 10, 2010 |  8:54 am

Random House launched a website Tuesday celebrating the films and television shows that came from its books. Called Words and Film, the site has a lot of Hollywood-produced video (movie trailers), a few interviews with moviemakers and some lists (because the Internet likes lists).

The site brings together the film and TV properties derived from all of its imprints. Random House is the biggest of the Big 6 publishers, a parent to a wide array of publishing arms. Words and Film brings together books published by Knopf (Steig Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Never Let Me Go" by Kasuo Ishiguro), Scholastic ("Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling), Ballantine ("Morning Glory" by Diana Peterfreund), Vintage ("Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming" by Bjorn Lomborg) and more.

Or rather, it brings together the movies and TV shows based on those books.

There are two interesting aspects to the site: first, the collapsing of boundaries between imprints, which would generally act independently of one another, doing marketing and promotion book by book. Secondly, it's a new take on the publishing life cycle: In most cases, by the time a movie is released, the initial marketing push around a book is long over. Generally, by the time a book gets to the screen, it's history -- and the screen version brings it new life, and broader reach. So Random House is interrupting the traditional workflow of book promotion to better fit how people consume culture; that seems smart.

But can the editors and contributors to the site, all Random House staffers, bring a critical eye to the film adaptations they're writing about? How many times have you seen a movie version of a beloved novel only to be disappointed? Will the publishers' website ever say something like, "Skip the film, read the book"?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Video: A video promoting the "Wallander" mystery series on PBS is featured on the Random House website. Author Henning Mankel's "Wallander" series is published by Vintage. Credit: PBS