12/11/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
>BIG SCREEN BONANZAS
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) might cringe at the production, but not at the profits generated by the unintentionally hilarious screen adaptation of his 1850 classic The Scarlet Letter. In the passionate hands of Demi Moore
and Gary Oldman, the Puritan chronicle got a lashing from the critics. But the original tale of sin, scorn and redemption is currently scarlet-hot, selling at five times the rate it did before Hollywood's high-concept treatment. How have other classic stories fared as commercial enterprises? Here's a tally:
Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence was selling some 10,000 to 20,000 copies per year before Martin Scorsese's 1993 film. There are now 900,000 in print.
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, featuring Winona Ryder on the jacket of the movie tie-in, has sold more than 50,000 copies.
Sales of E.M. Forster's Howards End were unspectacular before the Merchant-Ivory film copped its Oscars in 1992. They have since edged close to 500,000.
Some 2,000 copies of Jane Austen's Persuasion were selling annually when the film made its debut last month. Fifteen thousand have been scooped up since.