Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Books and Release Dates

For a while now, I've remained mum on the subject of the book's release date. Part of this was due to the fact that it's ultimately out of my hands, but part was due to a bit of creative scheming.

When The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films was sidelined last fall, Howard Shore suggested that we look at April to release. We've always wanted to tie the release into a concert because these create a lot of interest -- fans, press, reviews, etc. -- and raise the project's overall profile. Spring's not an ideal time, however. It's not a traditional LOTR month. As I've mentioned before, The Lord of the Rings phenomenon always seems to gain momentum in the fourth quarter of the year. The 'nesting months,' as it were. But Royal Albert's presentation of The Two Towers provided a nice big platform, and had the advantage of being located in the UK. Yes, LOTR is immensely popular the world round but, for whatever reason, the two primary hubs of fandom are the east coast of the US and the whole of England. In fact, when I look at the daily hits on this very blog, I see that very trend reinforced. (Though we seem to be creeping ever-Eastward into Europe day-by-day.)

So April at Royal Albert it was to be... kinda.

We restarted the book production the week after Radio City with the idea that we were aiming for April, but we had a lot of details to sort through first. In the midst of sorting, an interesting announcement reached us. The Return of the King had been pushed up in England and would now debut in September just a week before The Two Towers would play Radio City. This would be a press bonanza that would lead us right into the 2010 holiday season... and that comfy, cozy, all-important fourth quarter. Should we maybe consider that timeframe for the book?

I was of two minds. Would I like the extra time to work? You bet! Did I want to wait a little longer to FINALLY bring the book to market? I could already see the pitchforks on the horizon. No matter how much good will we've established over the years, there's eventually going to come a point where the mob charges you for blood, or gets fed up, heads home, and forgets you.

So we played the waiting game: Let's just see how things progress. We had the production to consider -- everything from design to printers to shipping routes. We had the business end to consider -- how quickly can licensing fees be recouped, can we get it printed in time for the press? And we had the fans to consider. How can we make something really special for those who have stuck with us through thick and thin?

In the end, everything seemed to be pushing us in one direction. Fall 2010 would allow us to hold not one but two premieres -- one at Royal Albert and one at Radio City a few days later. We could involve twice as many fans, hit twice as much press, and hold twice as many appearances and speaking events. And we could really announce the book to the world rather than just tossing it out a half-open window and muttering, "Here ya go... sorry it's late!"

And so -- without making any official announcements quite yet -- this is the current plan. The book will debut in the UK at Royal Albert Hall on September 28 and 29, then in the US at Radio City Music Hall on October 8 and 9. For a first time author and a relatively unique subject matter, this is mind-boggling. This thing had better be good, eh? Anyway, I like the idea of holding two premieres because fewer people will feel left out. I know some fans in the UK and Europe simply can't make it the US, and some fans in the US simply can't make it to the UK. So we'll now come to you!

Before you ask, I don't know how this would relate to book shop or online release dates, but I'll let you know when I do. Since we plan to have the book ready for the press before the premieres, I imagine that it will be available in shops at exactly the same time or a few days later. I don't anticipate any sort of lag.

And just to be clear, yes, The Rarities Archive is still a part of this release. It's not going anywhere!

So now you know what I know. And with that... I'm back to reviewing layout materials. This is going to be a long book!
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