Pearl Harbor Film a Money-maker for MBI

Jul 01, 2001 9:30 PM  By

Movie-studio honchos aren’t the only people delighting in the success of the blockbuster film Pearl Harbor. St. Paul, MN-based MBI, which produces the Zenith Books (aviation and military-history books and videos) and Classic Motorbooks (automotive books and videos) catalogs has seen strong sales of Pearl Harbor-related books since the movie’s Memorial Day release.

Catalog design supervisor Shelly Lystrom says that the Zenith catalog’s Pearl Harbor movie tie-in book and four other related books, which were showcased on page 3 of the May edition, are selling well, despite the film’s lukewarm reviews. After spotlighting the books up front in May, Zenith displayed them on page 68 in the June issue, “because we try to move things around in different issues to track results,” Lystrom says.

For MBI, the Pearl Harbor push isn’t a first. In fact, associate editor Amy Glaser carries the unofficial title of “Ms. Movies,” Lystrom says: “She gives us tips on movies coming out” that may relate to books and videos sold by the company.

But not all of MBI’s promotions are Hollywood-driven. When celebrated racecar driver Dale Earnhardt died in a crash in February, “we had numerous customers call us asking for books about his life,” Lystrom says. So the June Classic Motorbooks catalog devotes an entire page, subtitled “Remembering the Intimidator,” to books about Earnhardt and his son, Dale Jr.

As MBI catalog marketing manager Cynthia Trudeau points out, “Death is a part of auto racing culture.” But she’s quick to note that the company isn’t looking to make a quick buck on the racing legend’s passing. The cataloger contributes a portion of its Earnhardt-related revenue to a memorial charity set up by his family.