Amazon Studios Options Its First Novel, Seed, For A Crowdsourced, Big-Screen Adaptation

Films of books can often help drive sales of those books, and bestsellers often make for movie blockbusters, so it’s no surprise to see online bookseller Amazon today announcing that its content development arm, Amazon Studios, has optioned its first novel, the Amazon-published, Southern horror Seed, to begin making a big-screen adaptation. As with other content optioned by Amazon Studios — comic Blackburn Burrow being the most recent example — Amazon will use crowdsourced user feedback to decide how it adapts the book.

The book, by Ania Ahlborn, is an Amazon product in more ways than one. It not only was published by 47North, Amazon’s sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint, but it’s a self-published horror e-book bestseller, making it something of a poster child for Amazon’s whole move to digital, content creation, and operator of a publishing marketplace for others as well.

This is the first time that Amazon has optioned a novel for Amazon Studios. Other optioned content has been strictly related to film scripts and episodic content, like the Blackburn Burrow comic. This will mean more work but also potentially more flexibility in what Amazon creates from the raw material.

It’s also a super-safe bet. “Our primary objective at Amazon Studios is to develop great, commercial projects that our customers love,” Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “Ania Ahlborn’s Seed has been a top seller for Amazon Publishing’s 47North so we already have a sense of the mainstream attraction of the story and are excited to keep the project in-house for movie development.” Alhborn and Amazon are also using this as a wider promotion vehicle: she’s publishing her second book , The Neighbors, on November 27.

Still it’s not a guarantee that this will be converted into an actual film at any point. Amazon Studios says that to date it has optioned 10,000 movie scripts and 1,800 series pilot scripts, in addition to original content submitted by users. Those larger numbers have been whittled that down to 21 actual projects and 7 series. But by the time any of these projects actually hit the market, that number may be even smaller.

Seed first came out in 2011 and reached number-one on Amazon’s best-seller list with only viral marketing. It’s also something of a product of crowdsourcing creativity itself: Ahlborn re-released the book in 2012, after it went big time, with and extra 6,000 words and new plot developments — no doubt influenced by those reading and giving feedback on the book, Amazon reviews being a key part of how people engage with content on the site.

As with the Blackburn Burrow comic, Amazon has already had a $3,000 trailer contest for the book — a Southern Gothic thriller about a mysterious past and future for a character called Jack Winter — with fans able to use their home video skillz to create their own previews, with Ahlborn selecting the winner, Grinning Demons.