Not as good as the book: adaptations versus their source material

Simon Blish

‘It’s not as good as the book!’ Have we all said that at least once?

Which is really better, the book or the movie? Well the numbers have been crunched and the results are in. It’s true: it really is not as good as the book.

In almost all cases, the best version of a story usually is the book. The only exceptions are TV shows which expand on their literary worlds rather than shoe-horning them into 120 minutes – but even then, it’s a rare thing.

To test this long-held belief, The Book People compared user-submitted ratings from Goodreads and IMDb, factoring in over 411 million votes across both websites. In their study of 948 randomly selected novels, short stories and literary works adapted for the big and small screen, they found that only 1 in 10 book adaptations were rated higher than the source material, and these were mostly very recent adaptations.

TV adaptations tend to fare better than movies, but they’re still not as good as the book in most cases. This suggests that TV shows where screenwriters broaden the world that fans love can occasionally come out tops, whereas movies that struggle to truncate their storylines and narrow their worlds are much less popular (David Lynch’s Dune, anyone?).

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To be fair, we prefer the books too.

Adaptations better than their source material

The Handmaids Tale
The Haunting of Hill House
Orange Is the New Black
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk prefers the movie to his book
Game of Thrones

Books better than the movie

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Polar Express
The Nightingale
The Cat in the Hat
Fifty Shades of Grey

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About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.