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Mastering the Art of Mixing Bookshelf with Silver Screen
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Mastering the Art of Mixing Bookshelf with Silver Screen

It’s not uncommon for a popular book title or series to go from the shelf to the big screen (Harry Potter, Twilight and The DaVinci Code). While those titles enjoyed notoriety prior to their movie debut, a lesser-known and less-recent book, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has been introduced to a new generation as the ‘star’ of the summer release Julie & Julia.

Based on the books My Life in France by Julia Child and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, the film version Julie & Julia has helped boost book sales of all three titles from year-over-year. Originally published in 1961, Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a relatively low-key title with hardcover sales hovering around 10,000 units for the past few years, but sales have now skyrocketed to 158,000 units year-to-date. The combined paperback and hardcover sales of My Life in France and Julie and Julia also took dramatic leaps, 40,000 units sold last year to 264,000 in 2009 and 17,000 to 336,000, respectively.

Released in August, Julie & Julia ranked number #2 at the box office during its opening weekend grossing $20 million, and has increased its domestic total to $90.6 million and counting.

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Overall cookbook sales are also on the rise as the genre is up nearly 9 percent year-over-year with 8.2 million units sold in 2008 to just over 9 million this year.

Sales by U.S. Market

The top ten markets based on year-to-date sales of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” account for 40% of the title’s total with sales in New York and Los Angeles, the nation’s top two book markets, making up 16% of that tally.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Top 10 U.S. Markets by Sales (in units sold)

DMA YTD Sales (in units)
New York, NY 12,460
Los Angeles, CA 11,109
SF-Okland-San Jose 7,561
Chicago, IL 6,027
Seattle-Tacoma, WA 5,354
Washington, DC 5,051
Boston, MA 4,585
Philadelphia, PA 4,084
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 3,837
Houston, TX 3,458
Source: The Nielsen Company

While sales of the cookbook were up in all markets, the three markets with the largest year-over-year percent increase include Shreveport, Flint-Saginaw-Bay City and Wilkes-Barre-Scranton.