Looking back at the summer's TV tie-ins, it was a good time for bedrock American values. In particular, the paperback edition of The Founding Brothers (Vintage), Joseph Ellis's Pulitzer Prize—winning portrait of the framers of the Constitution, got a dramatic boost from a History Channel adaptation that aired Memorial Day. The book had been a fixture on the New York Times paperback bestseller list since its release in February, when it debuted at #12. In March, the book peaked at #4, before drifting back to #12 just before the show aired in late May. The week after, however, the book jumped to #8, and by July 28, it had climbed to #2. Overall, sales increased 250% from May to June, and then doubled again from June to July. After a first printing of 170,000 copies, the total number of books in print now exceeds 400,000. "While Father's Day probably had some impact as well, it's clear that the book rebounded after the show aired," said Russell Perreault, publicity director for Vintage.
The History Channel's extensive advertising and promotion campaign involved sending out 250 media kits that included videos of the program, background material and even a bobble-headed George Washington doll labeled "the original George W." Perreault also identified another promotional benefit: "Even though the program only aired twice, a lot of the outdoor advertising—on buses and billboards—stayed up for weeks."
This June, the History Channel also aired an adaptation of My Father's Gun (Plume), Brian McDonald's autobiographical story of three generations of New York City police officers. The show, which was broadcast three times, prompted "a tremendous spike in sales—at least 400% at every account we tracked," said Brant Janeway, Plume's publicity and marketing director. At some accounts, sales jumped "by a factor of 10," he added. Press coverage of the program also helped open up the market: "The show was reviewed in so many outlets, including People magazine, that people were made aware of the book even if they didn't see the movie."
Another title that saw a large jump was Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter, Shelly Brady's account of a salesman's determination to succeed in spite of his crippling cerebral palsy. Reuters reported that the adaptation, titled Door to Door, scored one of the highest Nielsen ratings in cable history. While the book emphasized life lessons, the TNT movie was more of a straight biography. Either way, "the publicity surrounding the film, in large part, put it on the New York Times bestseller list," said Monique Muhlenkamp, marketing and publicity coordinator for New World Library. After the TNT premiere, the publisher doubled the number of books in print, from 50,000 to 100,000 copies. Two weeks later, Brady appeared on Oprah and New World Library went back for 25,000 more.