Media Adaptions, Books, And Why We Don’t Really Know Much

On his own blog, Serdar noted that in a way books aren’t being written as books anymore, they’re parts of franchises and larger efforts.  In turn, some books aren’t being thought of as books because of this – they’re franchises, or works that are made to transition over, or something else.

We discuss a lot of media transitions here, especially adaptions, which Scott has done a heroic job covering.  Those are important in the Geekonomy as they drive efforts and affect geek culture.  However one thing rarely discussed is that this is a comparatively new phenomena, and one we’re only now exploring as it’s new.

Right now things can go from book to TV, from video game to movie, from comic to game, from  . . . well you get the idea.  Merely looking at the ever-expanding media empire that is Star Wars, or the way “The Avengers” succeeded against all odds, gives you an idea of how far media translations and transformations can go.  It’s almost normal now to discuss what actor will play who in a film or what anime would be great as an adaption.

It just hasn’t been normal for most of human history.

How many movie or television adaptions only became viable when computer technology and special effects reached enough of a pinnacle to actually make them believable.

How many adaptions only exist because of chance-taking like HBO’s Game of Thrones that wouldn’t have taken chances a decade ago?

How many television shows, books, or comic adaptions wouldn’t have existed just due to cultural issues in the past

For that matter, so much technology we take for granted didn’t exist decades or a century ago.  I rather imagine radio adaptions seemed somehow radical at the time . . .

Then of course go back 200 years and 99% of what we discuss about adaptions is moot.  Your biggest worry was probably how well the play went or getting a certain book.  Hardly comparable to “Is Benedict Cumberbatch going to make a good Smaug?” being a big concern for people.

(The answer by the way, is yes).

So when we discuss adaptions, when we discuss what it means for culture or economics, we have to remember this really is new.  We have to remember that this is new in human history, in a serious new way.  We don’t have many models, we don’t have previous experiences, we don’t have a lot to extrapolate directly from.

We’re in new territory here, so when we discuss economics, careers, etc. there’s not a lot to go on.  Accepting that is going to make dealing with these crazy times and options easier, as we don’t have to delude ourselves to our level of knowledge.

We don’t have much.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at