Dave Weich at Powell’s came up with a brilliant idea—create short films about writers and their works and have independent book stores across the country screen them. The first film features Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, a novella whose short size belies its powerful language. As of BEA, 54 bookstores across the country were planning events this week and next featuring the 28-minute Out of the Book™ film.
A week from tomorrow, Tuesday, June 19, the Harvard Book Store, my store, presents the movie at the Brattle Theatre and will include readings and music. Because On Chesil Beach focuses on the first night of a young married couple, three writers from the Grub Street creative writing center will read their own short pieces about wedding nights. In addition, the store has created a contest, asking customers to share their own “real or imagined story about the first night of a married couple.” (The stories should be 600 words or less and be “at least somewhat suitable for a general audience.”) The store will choose one story that will be read at the event. You can see a preview of the film here.
Shelf Awareness reports that Dave Weich, director of marketing and development at Powells.com, who created the series, said that the movie and events have already created a lot of buzz and “gotten a lot of people talking about McEwan.” He said the movies are intended to “invite readers into a new conversation” that will not be academic and exclusive.
Already Weich is talking to other publishers about future Out of the Book films, a task that is much easier now that the first one is in the can. “Before it was hard to conceptualize, like explaining how a song sounds,” he said. In the coming weeks, he’ll be seeking feedback about the events. Next time he wants to have the film distributed through even more bookstores.