This is a good a topic as any to ask, as it’s rather important.
So, why would you want to read fantasy instead of watch it or play it? These are very appealing ways of experiencing the genre (by the way, Dragon Age Inquisition is an amazing game), in fact some would argue they are superior to reading fantasy. The visuals are there. You don’t need description, all you need is to show. And if they’re good at what they do, you’re blown away.
But despite this major advantages, fantasy literature has an advantage that overshadows almost every other medium.
It’s not the ability to imagine (though that is a good advantage). It’s not the ability to tell longer stories. It’s simple cost.
It takes a lot less money to produce a fantasy literature than a fantasy movie, even a budget movie. All you need is the ability to write. For a fantasy movie, you need effects, cameras, actors….. you get the point. The same goes for other mediums, whether it be TV shows or video games.
And this cost factor allows for a lot of creativity.
Think about it. How many original fantasy IPs have you seen on the big screen? Most original IPs are science fiction or post apocalyptic, but even when you look at them, it seems that everything is based on something else.
The only recent original ones I can come up with is The Last Witch Hunter..
And I’m sure there are smaller films that use original IPs. But let’s be honest, we don’t ever hear about these smaller productions. And gaming gets quite a few original IPs,but even then, companies are more willing to support existing IPs that they’ve already built/bought. TV is even worse. I can’t think of a single fantasy original series apart from Avatar and Adventure Time. And those two are awesome.
Literature, however, has a huge swell of original IPs. The Storm light Archive. The Kingkiller Chronicle. The Broken Empire. Can you honestly imagine any of these things getting green lit by companies not willing to take risks? The Storm Light Archive, maybe, but I doubt it. It would just cost so much. Kingkiller doesn’t even work well on screen, but the idea of a failed hero would probably have to have been modified. The Broken Empire would have been destroyed within minutes. A protagonist who’s an actual villain, not an Anti-hero? I mean the grim style would have been appealing, but the amount of risks you’d have to take……..
I certainly couldn’t imagine A Game of Thrones getting on the big screen. It would have been just too strange to see such a dark fantasy series at the time it was released.
This lack of cost increases the ability to innovate. Which allows for better ideas, more innovation, more risks, and happy readers.
The flip side is that the market for fantasy literature is pretty much filled.There are thousands of books in the market, some classics and some rather new. There is no way that you’d be able to read them all. And in this sea of fantasy, it’s easy to miss something new and fun.
Another point is that fantasy books rely on ads a lot less and word of mouth a lot more. Which increases the need to stand out, as the only way to get consumers is to come up with something original. You need something either really new, or really, really good to get people to take notice.
So the cost factor increases quality, innovation, and the amount of books in the market. It’s advantage in these areas will probably continue until film tech becomes so advanced that it becomes relatively cheap to produce fantasy films. But that’s a big if, so I think fantasy books will be relevant for a long time to come.
Sorry about this being a little late by the way 🙂