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《权力的游戏》剧集已结束,小说续集何时能面世?

Dan Reilly 2019年05月26日

即便乔治·马丁已经完成了其手稿,但要读到这本大作,读者仍需等待很长的时间。

《权力的游戏》最终季已经于上周日上映,但该剧集和书作的粉丝们依然在期盼,什么时候乔治·马丁才能发布该系列的第六部作品——《凛冬之风》(The Winds of Winter)。答案是:即便这位众所周知的拖沓作家已经完成了其手稿,但要读到这本大作,读者仍需等待很长的时间。

不幸的是,对于《冰与火之歌》(A Song of Ice and Fire)系列小说的忠实读者来说,事实在于,书刊出版行业有自己的经营方式,并非是为了迎合突然发布的专辑或Netflix的碧昂丝纪录片。即便马丁的《魔龙的狂舞》(A Dance with Dragons)出版已有8年的时间,但其出版商没有理由去催促他尽快出版自己的新作。

唯一真正着急的是书迷,他们担心70岁高龄的马丁是否能够在生前完成这部小说(作者在2014年说:“真的,我发现这个问题很无礼,而人们开始怀疑我的死亡和健康,有这些想法的人,见你的鬼去吧。”)但马丁也开始感觉到压力,他最近对《Entertainment Weekly》说:“我最好是能活得长一点,因为我还有很多未完成的工作。”

鉴于剧集的最终季已经上演。最近,马丁发布了新头像特写,而且他的一位朋友说这位作家的日程出人意料的空闲,从这些小道消息来看,有人猜测他已经完成《凛冬之风》。(马丁的出版商拒绝就这本书作或其大致的计划对《财富》杂志发表评论。)但如果马丁真的已经完成写作,而且其手稿已经交给了出版商,那么粉丝们要等多久才能看到新书呢?

即便这本书进入了快速制作通道,答案是至少仍需等待数个月。以下是有关这个原因的具体分析。

书籍制作需要时间

2011年,兰登书屋在1016页的《魔龙的狂舞》首发中推出了65万册精装版。马丁向《卫报》透露,《凛冬之风》的篇幅可能会更长,这“不像是一本小说,而是十几本小说,每一本都有不同的主人公”。不管篇幅有多长,印刷量有多大(鉴于这个系列的受欢迎程度,估计印刷量会更大),书籍制作没有捷径可走。就印刷而言,出版社也不是一成不变的,因此他们无法想当然地就开始印刷这本书,而这仅仅是其中的一部分原因。

出版行业资深人士、Idea Logical Company的创始人及首席执行官麦克·沙茨金表示:“根据以往的经验,制作一本书需要约6个月的时间。首先,要排版设计,要制作封面。打版需要1到2个月的时间,然后需要4至8周的时间来印刷和装订。这个时间还是在手稿已经备好的情况下,如果书中有很多插图,时间会更长。”

销售与营销日期已经(几乎)确定

与好莱坞一样,出版商会提前数个月开始对发行进行策划。在线和实体零售店需要知道都有哪些新书,并据此来调整销售策略,而出版商则需要时间来配送、营销和宣传。是的,即便是《权力的游戏》也需要更广泛的媒体报道,内容大多涉及作者访谈、节选,以及向重要人士提供读者预览版。

沙茨金说:“手稿与出版之间的时间间隔不仅可以用来制作书刊,而且也为评论者评论,营销报价以及送达零售商留出了时间。巴诺书店[以及其他店面正]试图策划新出版书架的内容。他们无法在下周就把你的书摆上架,因为这个位置已经有人订了。你必须在很久之前与他们对接上架日程。”

预售阶段对于销售来说至关重要

如今,没有书刊能够仅靠店面销售就可以雄霸《纽约时报》畅销书榜单之首,预售发挥着异常重要的作用。除了客户满意度之外,预售能够让出版商和店面了解销售的情况,以及他们是否需要及时增加库存来满足需求。

沙茨金表示:“首周销售有着巨大的影响力。你不会希望将《权力的游戏》书籍放在无法获得预售激增的地方销售。你可能会在三个月内推出这本书,同时不会轻易放过市场上的任何机会,但超过这个速度可能会很困难。此举并不会给小说带来它本应具有的良好开端。”

得益于电视剧,出版商无需着急

兰登书屋于2011年3月宣布了《魔龙的狂舞》的发行日期是7月,恰逢电视剧第一季的完结。在出版界,此举被称之为“空降”,意味着快速在书店上架,而且以上面提到的销售和营销举措为代价。

《凛冬之风》与《魔龙的狂舞》之间的区别在于,后一部小说是在HBO续订该剧集之前就已经宣布发售。沙茨金表示:“他们可能希望趁热打铁,因为他们并不知道8年后该剧集是否依然会像现在这样受欢迎。”《魔龙的狂舞》首日销量高居榜首,其中包括17万册精装版的预售,11万电子书和1.8万有声读物。如果剧集遭砍,这个数字则会低得多。

尽管第一季十分受欢迎,但在斯塔克被斩首后继续观看续集的观众仅有300万,不过,《权力的游戏》在2017年回归时斩获了1650万观众。第八季必然会超过这一数字,因为如今人们只能通过DVD、网络视频以及HBO Now密码共享和私下观看来补剧。即便是在最后一集播出之后,这批粉丝仍然不会消失,剧集结束后留下的空白会刺激人们对《权力的游戏》内容的需求。

如今,在六周的时间内,数千万粉丝们将知道维斯特洛斯和所有主要角色在荧幕上的命运。马丁小说与剧集的背离仍将在今后数月内成为人们的热议话题。可能他会以不同的方式使雪诺复活,或者以更快地速度让人们喜爱的角色阵亡,因此,没有人会因为等待一个合理、具体的发布日程而感到难受。

沙茨金表示:“小说的发布都有一个自然的节奏,一般会耗费数个月的时间,因为目前有数以万计的书作正在排队。兰登书屋一年发行1万本,也就是每周200本,一天40本。考虑到这个工作量,把一本书从正常的队列中拿出来然后单独排期是一件很痛苦的事情。当然,出版商会说:‘我们希望尽快完成,因为大家都在翘首期待。’但不考虑整体情况而过快地发布并没有什么好处。该书作也不会因为赶工而受益。”

因此,《权力的游戏》的粉丝们还请耐心等待。如果幸运的话,估计马丁最终宣布《凛冬之风》完成之日起90天之后,或更加实际一点,半年之后,粉丝们就将读到这本大作。好消息在于,你有充足的时间来重温一遍剧集,并重看之前的五部小说,更不用说马丁介绍的所有其他相关中篇小说和书作指南,反正,你肯定不会闹书荒。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

The final season of Game of Thrones premiered last Sunday, but fans of the show and novels are still wondering when George R.R. Martin will finally release the series’ sixth book, The Winds of Winter. The answer? Even if the notoriously slow-paced scribe is already done with his manuscript, it will still be quite some time before readers can get their hands on it.

Unfortunately for devoted readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the reality is that the book publishing world isn’t built to accommodate the equivalent of a surprise album drop or Netflix documentary about Beyoncé. And even though it’s been eight years since Martin released A Dance with Dragons, there’s no real reason for his publisher to hurry up.

The only real urgency lies with the fans. Book purists fret about the 70-year-old Martin dying before finishing his story (“I find that question pretty offensive, frankly, when people start speculating about my death and my health, so fuck you to those people,” the author said in 2014.) But Martin has also started feeling the pressure, recently telling Entertainment Weekly, “I better live a long time because I have a lot of work left to do.”

With the final episodes came, there’s new speculation that he’s finished Winds, based on small hints like his unveiling of a new headshot and a friend saying the writer’s schedule has surprisingly cleared. (Martin’s publishers would not comment about the book or their general plans to Fortune.) But if Martin really is done and the manuscript is turned in to his publisher, how quickly would fans be able to get it?

The answer is still months, at least, even if the book is fast-tracked. Here’s a breakdown of why that’s the case.

Manufacturing Books Takes Time

In 2011, Random House produced 650,000 hardcover copies of the 1,016-page A Dance with Dragons for its first run. The Winds of Winter will likely be longer as Martin told The Guardian, it’s “not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist.” Regardless of the length and size of the print run, which will be much larger given how popular the series is, there are no corners to cut in production. In terms of printing, the presses are never dormant, so they can’t just start making copies of Winds at the drop of a hat. And that’s only part of it.

“Historically, it takes about six months to make a book,” says Mike Shatzkin, a publishing industry veteran and founder/CEO of the Idea Logical Company. “First, a book has to be designed, a cover has to be made. It takes one to two months to get the type set, then you have four to eight weeks of printing and binding. That’s from when the manuscript is ready, and it’s longer if it’s heavily illustrated.”

The Sales and Marketing Calendars Are Already Set (Mostly)

Like Hollywood, the book world plans releases at least several months in advance. Online and physical retailers need to know what’s coming and adjust their sales strategies accordingly, while publishers need time for distribution, marketing, and publicity. Yes, even Thrones needs more media coverage, mostly in author interviews, excerpts, and getting advance reader copies to important people.

“The time between manuscripts and publication not just getting the book made but also having reviewers in place, getting quotes for marketing and reaching retailers,” Shatzkin says. “Barnes and Noble [and other stores are] trying to plan what’s going to be on its new-release table. They can’t put your book in there for next week—it’s already committed. You have to fit their schedule substantially in advance.”

The Preorder Period Is Huge for Sales

These days, no book tops the New York Times Best Sellers list solely by in-store sales—preorders play a massive role. In addition to customer satisfaction, preorders let both the publisher and stores know how well sales are going and whether they need to increase inventory to meet demand in a timely fashion.

“The first-week sale is massively influential. You don’t want to put your Game of Thrones book out where you won’t get a preorder bump,” Shatzkin says. “You could probably put it out in three months without any serious compromise to opportunities in the marketplace, but [faster] than that might be difficult. It wouldn’t give the book the start it’s entitled to.”

Thanks to the Show, There’s No Reason to Rush

Random House announced A Dance with Dragons in March 2011 with a release date in July, just after the show’s first season concluded. It’s what’s known in publishing as a “drop-in,” meaning it was fast-tracked to stores at the expense of the aforementioned sales and marketing efforts.

The difference between Winds and Dance is that the announcement of the latter was made before HBO renewed the show. “They probably wanted to strike while the iron was hot because they didn’t know it was going to look just as good eight years later,” Shatzkin says. The list-topping first-day sales, including preorders, tallied 170,000 hardcovers, 110,000 ebooks and 18,000 audiobooks, a number that would have been far lower if the show got canceled.

And while that season was popular, with just over 3 million people watching its post-Ned-Stark-beheading conclusion, Game of Thrones drew over 16.5 million viewers in its most recent turn back in 2017. Season eight is guaranteed to eclipse that, now that people have had to catch up through DVDs, streaming, password-sharing of HBO Now and piracy. Even after the grand finale, that legion of fans won’t disappear—if anything, the post-show void could lead to greater demand for more Thrones content.

Now, in six weeks, those millions of people will know the onscreen fate of Westeros and all the main characters. Martin’s deviation from the show will still be of interest in a few months—maybe he’ll resurrect Jon Snow in a different way or kill off a beloved character much sooner—so nobody will suffer by waiting for a proper, fleshed-out release schedule.

“There’s a natural rhythm of things that comfortably takes months because there are thousands and thousands of books. Random House is doing 10,000 a year, so that’s 200 a week, 40 a day,” Shatzkin says. “It’s a real pain in the ass to pull a book out of the normal queue and treat it separately when you’re dealing with that many. Sure, the publisher is going to say, ‘We want to do it faster because everybody’s waiting for it,’ but there’s no real upside in putting it too soon and not covering all your bases. It will not benefit from being rushed.”

So, be patient Thrones fans. If you’re lucky, it’ll be 90 days from whenever Martin finally announces The Winds of Winter or, more realistically, half a year. On the bright side, that’ll give you ample time to rewatch the show and reread the other five books—not to mention all the other related novellas and companion guides Martin’s put out—giving you plenty of content to feast upon.

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