Every year in Los Angeles, the Oscar awards are treated like a sacred national holiday, and after 5:00pm have a similar effect on the city’s traffic conditions (none), retail activity (soft), and social gatherings (plentiful and excessive). In the week leading up to the Oscar ceremony, with six of the nine best picture nominees being book adaptations, we asked John Evans of Diesel Books in Malibu and Brentwood—where the largest percentage of actors and other entertainment heavies live—to comment on movie tie-in editions and other Oscar-related bookselling quirks.
Are movie tie-in books important to Diesel?
Historically—back in the 80s, for instance—there was resistance to the movie tie-in jackets. People just wanted the original book. Now people don’t care, and they’ll buy either edition if they’re really interested in reading it. We have a big display of movie tie-ins at the front of the Brentwood store right now, but it’s not doing very well.
When do the tie-in books begin to sell?
Because of our customer base, the Oscars have little bearing on the timing. People start to buy the book when the film is in production, or a couple of months before the film’s release date. They’re in the entertainment industry, and know about these things. We do sell some tie-in editions after the Oscar nominations are announced, but the majority of those sales happen much earlier. In our community people are busy seeing all the movies before the Oscars, either at home on the DVD screeners the studios send out or at special Academy theatre screenings.
What’s been your bestselling movie tie-in title?
The Descendants, definitely. It released late in the year and the film had a big effect on sales of the novel [by Kaui Hart Hemmings].
Do you watch the Oscars?
I just started watching a few years ago. We were caught in a terrible rainstorm driving home on Pacific Coast Highway and had to check in to a hotel for the night. It happened to be Oscar night, and Alison (Evans’ partner) turned on the TV to watch. I was going through catalogues, but then decided to join her. Almost every time someone won an award and stood at the podium I said, “Hey! That’s a customer!” The producers, the screenwriters, the directors… I didn’t realize how many of them shop at Diesel. Now I pay more attention so when they’re in the store after the Oscars I can congratulate them.
Can you tell us a little about the movie stars who shop at Diesel?
No. We respect their privacy.
What’s your pick for Best Picture this year?
Oh, The Artist will win. I loved it. It’s such a capable film across the whole span, and it’s self-referential to Hollywood. People in the industry like that.