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Publishers Weekly Children's Features

I Know What You'll Read This Summer
Shannon Maughan -- 5/18/98
Lois Duncan fans have always known they could find thrills and chills in the pages of her many novels. And ever since Hollywood brought Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer to the big screen last year, more and more readers are discovering her brand of edge-of-your-seat suspense. The film, which starred such up-and-coming stars as Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar, was a big box-office hit, and the flurry of publicity it generated has spurred sales of Pocket Books' movie tie-in edition of the book and also breathed fresh life into Dell's backlist Duncan titles. (In an unusual situation, I Know What You Did Last Summer is the only Duncan YA novel that is not part of Dell's backlist.)
Book sales have taken an even bigger upturn since the simultaneous release of Columbia TriStar's home-video rental version of I Know What You Did Last Summer and five slickly repackaged Duncan books from Dell at the end of March. The new Duncan covers of Don't Look Behind You, Killing Mr. Griffin (which was adapted for television last year) and three others feature bold black-and-white photographs which have a horror-film feel. In mid-March all five new Duncan paperbacks appeared on Ingram's Top 100 list of juvenile mass market titles. Her combined Dell backlist titles can boast two million copies in print. And since its March 24th release, the video has maintained a top-10 spot on Billboard's tape rental list, including three weeks at #1.

The title's popularity has provided several cross-promotion opportunities for BDD and video distributor Columbia TriStar Home Video. A 15-second teaser spot for the books appears on copies of the video, and, conversely, a plug for the video graces the inside back covers of the repackaged Duncan paperbacks. Web site contests, including one on the react magazine site and advertising in teen magazines are also helping to get the word out. The momentum seems likely to carry into summer as teens have more free time to rent movies and pick up a pleasure read. The sell-through-priced home video of I Know What You Did Last Summer is due out in late summer or early fall, as are seven more repackaged Duncan novels, which may perk up books sales yet again. The BDD books are also promoted on an insert packaged with the video.

It will come as no surprise to movieg rs that a feature film sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer is set for release at Thanksgiving. The movie is written by Kevin Williamson, someone very much in tune with teen tastes and the creator of screenplays for Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer as well as the hot television show Dawson's Creek. BDD and Columbia TriStar will co-sponsor a sweepstakes this fall in which the grand-prize winner (and lots of friends) receives an exclusive screening of the new flick at a cinema in her hometown. The details have not been finalized but interested booksellers can obtain sweepstakes entry forms from BDD later this summer.
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