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The Associate important for the book industry

The Associate important for the book industry

John Grisham’s 21st book, The Associate, was released Jan. 27 and went straight to No. 1 on most best-seller lists.

Nearly everything Grisham writes goes to No 1. He long ago earned enough money to last several lifetimes.

But for many reasons, this is one of the former Mississippi legislator’s most important books. The Associate will go a long way in measuring the recession’s effect on the book industry and how publishers, big and small, will operate in 2009.

“It’s the first big book of the year, and all the publishing houses are watching it closely,” Grisham says. “Most popular authors are down anywhere from 25 to 50 percent (in sales). If The Associate is down that much, it’s a bad sign. If it hangs in there and does within 10 percent of what my other books have done – if it doesn’t show a lot of erosion – then the industry is going to feel pretty good because a big book can work.

“But if the big commercial authors take a bit hit, it filters down to your publishers, your bookstores, to everybody. And it makes things a whole lot more frightening. So far, the numbers look promising. But it’s still too early to tell.”

John Evans, owner of Lemuria Books in Jackson, says the economy has hit his store hard. Lemuria is one of the few independent bookstores remaining in the South.

“We’ve been getting clobbered since last August,” Evans says. “I’m fighting the economy every day. It’s been brutal. But if The Associate does well, I think it will take pressure off the publishing companies. They’ll be willing to hang in there a little longer.

“But I assure you they’re saying ‘If Grisham’s books won’t sell, how can we sell anybody else?’ I think it could determine how many layoffs there are at publishing companies, how many books are purchased from authors. You had better believe this is a major crossroads for our industry.”

And it could be a good thing, indeed, that in The Associate Grisham returned to the recipe that made him one of the top-selling authors worldwide.

It is a fast-paced, page-turner that features a young lawyer who finds himself being blackmailed and forced to work for a big-money, low-ethics law firm.

“Over the years, people have often said to me in a very nice way ‘I like your books. But I really liked your early books,’ “ says Grisham, 53, who, along with wife Renee, splits time between Oxford and Charlottesville, Va. “At first, I wasn’t sure how to take that. But then I realized we all tend to do that, whether it’s music, actors … we always tend to like the early stuff.

“If you look at my early books – The Firm, The Pelican Brief and The Client – those were all big books. And the movies of all three were released in a 12-month period of time, and all grossed over $100 million. Looking back now, those three books paved the way for everything else that has happened for me. So I said, ‘OK, I’m going back to the early stuff and try to write a book that can capture the suspense of The Firm.”

Margaret Boles, a 43-year-old nurse from Pearl and a huge Grisham fan, calls The Associate “his best book in 10 years … it just has that old Grisham flavor to it.”

Grisham already has sold The Associate’s film rights to Paramount Pictures. Production could begin this year.

“If done properly, I think it could be a slick, fun, commercial film,” he says.

5 Comments

  • February 18, 2009 at 5:54 PM Tracy Raymond

    Oh how I am a J.Grisham fan. My favorite is “The Partner”.

    I just finished The Associate and I was so, so disappointed. There was too much writing about the detailing in hours billed at the law firm. After reading the first half of the book I wanted to quit reading, but I had to know how it ended. I was just so sure there would be a great twist to make the book worth my time. But I was wrong.

    Sorry, I LOVE JG’s books, but not this one. Can I have my $20.00 back?

  • February 20, 2009 at 3:55 AM irianto Efendi

    Kinda disappointed as well reading The Associate. It started quite okay; but get us bored easily through out the chapters an finally a quick ending through the end of the book. However; the conversation flow is still get the character of Grisham. Looking forward to the next novel!

  • March 16, 2009 at 4:31 PM Elizabeth Edmonds

    I enjoyed The Associate and felt the suspense building until the end. However, there are a lot of loose ends and I’m wondering if that was intentional and might be able to look forward to a “sequel”? For instance….what happened to the “rape victim”? Who is the inside “snitch”? What happened to “Benny”? We know he got away….or did he? Did Kyle find out that his father paid the rape vicim off? What happened with the big lawsuit he was spying on? Did it go forward? Who won? I’m really hoping for a sequel to answer all these questions. Kyle sounds like a character I can grow older with.

  • October 4, 2009 at 10:50 AM Daryl Bretch Largo

    Hmmmm…. the suspense was really great, i love it. but i didn’t exactly like the ending. it was just ok for me. more than half of the novel was devoted to how Kyle prepared himself in order to, perhaps, nail Bennie in the end, by himself or with a little help from Joey and some friends. most part of the story projected Kyle as having the ability to outsmart Bennie in the end. Since, it did not happen, i would have expected a twist in the last part of the novel with the sudden and a bit late appearance of Roy and the active participation of Kyle’s Dad, John. Well maybe, this is just a teaser. Good luck JG. any “sequel”? thanks.

  • October 4, 2009 at 10:56 AM Daryl Bretch Largo

    Hmmmm…. the suspense was really great, i loved it. but i didn’t exactly like the ending. it was just ok for me. more than half of the novel was devoted to how Kyle prepared himself in order to, perhaps, nail Bennie in the end, by himself or with a little help from Joey and some friends. most part of the story projected Kyle as having the ability to outsmart Bennie in the end. Since, it did not happen, i would have expected a twist in the last part of the novel with the sudden and a bit late appearance of Roy and the active participation of Kyle’s Dad, John. Well maybe, this is just a teaser. Good luck JG. any “sequel”? thanks.

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