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'The Age of Innocence': The Movie Tie-in

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You’ve seen the movie, now feel the book. That’s what director Martin Scorsese imagined when he proposed including swatches of period-design fabrics in his new tie-in tome, The Age of Innocence: A Portrait of the Film Based on the Novel by Edith Wharton (Newmarket, $49.50). Alas, this is an age of exigence, and to get the book out for the movie’s opening, luxury had to take a backseat to necessity.

”An art-book publisher like Rizzoli would take two years minimum on something like this,” says Newmarket Press president Esther Margolis. ”We had 14 months.” Newmarket’s staff had to coax quick results out of pokey Italian presses, and getting top quality from the set photos was often difficult: Shot hastily in dim light, many pictures of stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer were grainy and blurry.

Still, the compromises haven’t stopped retailers from grabbing up all of Portrait‘s 10,000 available copies. Wharton’s 1920 novel is selling briskly as well, with almost 1 million copies in softcover. Not bad for a downbeat tragedy of manners to which Wharton herself never expected more than a polite commercial response.

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