Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Back for the second season, ABC’s Castle is one of this seasons prime-time shows that I am most interested in.  Season 1 was compelling and sure to interest fans of Nathan Fillion.  Many will remember Fillion from his role as Malcolm Reynolds on the classic but short lived Firefly series.  Needless to say, Fillion’s roll as crime author Richard Castle plays to the actors strengths and makes for an amusing series.

So, here’s why I find this show interesting enough to warrant a post.  The shows main character, Richard Castle, successful author who decides to kill off the character that made him famous.  The plot explains that Castle is bored writing about the character because he knows him inside out.  He wants to create a new character.

Castle spends some time with the NYPD and finds inspiration for a new character.  He pulls some strings at the NYPD and the Mayors office and get assigned as a consultant to a detective on which he plans to based his new character.  The new character, Nikki Heat, is based on NYPD detective Kate Beckett.  Wikipedia has some interesting background on the characters.

At the beginning of season 1, Castle kills off the lead character that supposedly made him a house hold name and risks his career with a new book.  He starts investigating strange cases with Beckett.  Shortly into season 2, Castle is about to release the first book based on the Nikki Heat character.  This is the part that I find fascinating.

In this weeks upcoming episode Castle’s book is supposed to hit fictional store shelves within the show.  But in real life, a physical copy of the book is also hitting book stores.  In fact Amazon.com is offering both a hard cover version of the book as well as a copy of the Amazon Kindle e-book reader.  And, just to be clear, the book is being published in real life.  Further more, its being published under the author name of the fictional character, Richard Castle!

Amazon’s sales information follows thought fully with the gag.  It lists Castle as the author and credits him with this listing under About the Author:
Richard Castle is the author of numerous bestsellers, including the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm series. His first novel, In a Hail of Bullets, published while he was still in college, received the Nom DePlume Society’s prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature. Castle currently lives in Manhattan with his daughter and mother, both of whom infuse his life with humor and inspiration.

I have to say, I love the idea.  The book is a little thin, weighing in at 208 pages.  But the prices fits too, currently listed at $10.99 for the hardcover version on Amazon.com.  And offering a Kindle version of the book as well is just brilliant!

I suppose to most, this is just a gimmick to promote the show.  But why not.  Comic books have been done for other show and other promotional memorabilia are common these days.  I have yet to read the book.  My copy just arrived this morning.  But I find this real world tie in fascinating.  Why not put out a book that coincides with the show.  The shows plot references the book he is woking on fairly regularly.  Of course, the only reason I was even aware of the book was a spot at the end of last weeks episode that caught my eye, even while blasting through commercials on the Tivo.

So, we have a hard cover book release, an e-book version, and a prime time ad for the book that is written by a fictional character about other fictional characters.  Its a gimmick and won’t sell, right?  It may not be that simple.  According to the information listed on Amazon.com, its the #6 best selling book on the site right now.  Given, it could be that Amazon has fabricated that ranking to further the gag, but it seems to be an actual sales rank.  Apparently the book has been very popular within the last week.

To the best of my knowledge, a concept like this has never been perpetrated to this extent.  Certainly not including a prime time ad and taking up actual shelf space.  It’s a great tie in to the TV series and I think it is an interesting literary and episodic television experiment at the very least.

UPDATE: 10/22/09
Heat Wave hit the New York Times Best Sellers List on its first full week out.  Currently ranked at #28!

UPDATE: 10/26/09
This week the book has jumped to #11 on the list.

UPDATE: 11/2/09
Up to #6 this week!

UPDATE: 1/4/10
While Heat Wave is no longer on the top 10 list, it still remains on the top 35 list.  Current listed at #26.  Killer sales for a relatively short story.  It seems safe to assume there will be a followup release.


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