James Bond is Back at the Bookstore

May 28, 2008 marks the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth. The creator of the most famous secret agent of all time, James Bond, will be celebrated with reprints of his books, along with a new 007 adventure.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Pearson PLC in the UK (PSON.L/PSO) and Doubleday (part of Bertelsmann AG) in the US, are gearing up for a massive marketing campaign to promote “Devil May Care” by British author Sebastian Faulks. Very little is known about the book except that it will take place in the 1960s to continue where Fleming left off. (Ian Fleming died in 1964. His last Bond novel was “The Man with the Golden Gun”, published in 1965. “Octopussy” and “The Living Daylights” are two short stories Fleming wrote in the early sixties but were published as one book in 1966.)

Since his death, Fleming’s estate has commissioned other authors besides Faulks to continue his literary legacy: Kingsley Amis (“Robert Markham”), John Gardner, and Raymond Benson. For the most part, these books had tepid sales. However, the publishers and bookseller Barnes & Noble (BKS) believes this time is different. Pearson will give “Devil May Care” the largest fiction budget for a UK book this year. Doubleday will have an initial print run of 250,000. The publisher believes that the success of the 2006 film “Casino Royale” will do for the Bond books what “The Bourne Identity” films did to revive Robert Ludlum’s novels and the authors who pen them under Ludlum’s name. Bob Wietrak, B&N’s VP of merchandising says the bookseller is buying “Devil May Care” as “a definite best seller. The downturn in the economy has prompted a demand for escapist fare.”

May 28, 2008 will feature two prominent planetary energies that just might provide the sales the publishers and bookstores are hoping for. Mercury, the planet that rules writing and books, will be retrograde* in Gemini. People will be more inclined at that time to read a book featuring a well known character, or want to reread favorite books from the past. Readers would also be more interested to read a book that takes place in a different time (such as the Cold War era). The Sun and Venus are conjoined in Gemini, which will boost book sales in general at this time. (I’m sure the Bond books will be promoted as gifts for Dads and grads.)

Ian Fleming called his Bond stories “fantasy for grown-ups”**. Neptune, the planetary energy relating to fantasy and escapism, will also turn retrograde then. The Moon (emotional needs) will be in Neptune-ruled Pisces on May 28. Espionage falls under the domain of Neptune/Pisces.

Jupiter rules publishing. With Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign of limitation, net adult hardcover sales in January and February 2008 fell 13% year over year, according to the Association of American Publishers. Jupiter in Capricorn means publishers this year want to play it safe with established authors and fictional characters. Capricorn rules traditions and the past; Britain is a Capricorn nation.

Gemini is a dualistic sign, symbolized by the twins. There are two James Bonds – the book Bond and the movie Bond. And there are two types of Bond books – Fleming’s and the authors writing books after his death. The book industry would like to accommodate both.

*Planets do not really move backwards but appear to from Earth’s vantage point.

**”Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is Fleming’s fantasy for children.

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