Julia’s book sales: proof of the power of movie publicity

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If anyone doubts the power of Hollywood and its well-trained media machine, note what the New York Times reports this morning: Within days after Columbia Pictures launched an affectionate bio of Julia Child by an expert screenwriter and featuring two highly likeable stars who draw free publicity from a zillion magazine, blog and TV reports, the 48-year-old book at the heart of the plot is selling far better than ever before. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Child and co-authors, was selling 22,000 copies a week, more than in any entire year in its history, the Times reported. A Barnes & Noble exec said the $40, fatty and fat (750-page) book sold seven times as many copies in a month as in a typical year. Even discount stores that previously never stocked the book are ordering it. Next week, for the first time, the book will top a Times bestseller list, in the how-to category. Public TV anticipated the movie’s publicity value, angling for web and TV audience based on Child’s early shows.