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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Trailers? Um, Okay.

I'm a little late on this, but I've only this week heard of the "book trailer market," which is apparently the (sort of) new rage in book marketing. SHOMI, an imprint of Dorchester Publishing, announced on Monday that Stephen King will judge their book trailer contest. SHOMI describes itself as "a groundbreaking line of speculative fiction that combines the best elements of the fantasy, thriller, science fiction, cyberpunk, and romance genres" and, more succintly, as "the future of romance." Joining them to present the contest is Circle of Seven Productions, whose website announces that they coined the term "Book Trailer" in 2002. The contest asks participants to film a book trailer for any title in the SHOMI series of modern-day fantasy fiction. The winner not only will have the public approval of one Stephen King, but his/her film will be shown at a movie premiere in NYC and at a theater in his/her home market.

When I tried to do a little more research on book trailers, I found the internet teeming with them. Everywhere from to YouTube to HarperCollins. Are people actually watching these things? My god, where have I been? Maybe I was off actually reading something.


Jessica said...

I don't understand who the audience is for book trailers. People who do read don't need book trailers and people who don't read will fail to see the point in a trailer for a book.

S F said...

People who read will still prefer the traditional methods of finding out about books. But, there are a lot of them who just love to watch book video because they love books so much. It's for entertainment mostly and as an announcement when a book is out.
These have become very popular with young adults and the general public. So much so that COS was asked to show their book trailers on the public transit buses in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando and Milwaukee.
Why do people like music videos? You LISTEN to music, you don't watch it. Yet, music videos are widely accepted as a main staple of the music industry.
Why not books?
Why should the publishing industry be the only entertainment industry to not capitalize on the huge success of online video?
If book trailers encourage people to see books as fun and entertaining, why not embrace that?


Beth Staples said...


You make a lot of really great points. I'm not really as "against" the trailers as I might have sounded. (I find playing devil's advocate usually incites more conversation - it worked!). But it does occur to me that this is, in some way, a concession for a society that doesn't, in large part, value reading. Books are books. Making trailers for them might make books seem more movie-like (more fun and entertaining?) but will they actually get people to READ? It would be nice if they did, but I'm just not sure. I also find it interesting that you mention the publishing industry "capitalizing" on them. Do publishers actually expect to sell more books this way? Or are the trailers themselves expected to be a revenue-generating enterprise? The former seems to be hopeful thinking, and the latter - well, another move away from focusing on the books themselves, it seems to me.

S F said...

There are statistics surrounding book trailers and book sales that are very encouraging.
With more and more booksellers using them and some even making them themselves I would have to say that book video has proven to, at least for now, found a way to get people interested enough in books to buy them.
I hate to say it, but I have to agree that a lot of people don't value books. It is very much a society issue. We, for the most part, are a society that wants instant gratification. Why read the book when you can wait for the movie?
This is about building a culture that accepts books as entertainment.
Through school kids are forced to read until they hate it. I hear that all the time. To NOT read is a way to rebel against the machine. Or so many people think once they graduate.
They seem to forget how much they loved books when mom or dad read to them, or during story time at the library.
So how do we remind them of that initial love of a good story when they may now have a predisposition not to want to read, and to top it off, they are bombarded with video games, television and movies?
Right now, with book trailers, schools have started using them. Teachers see that kids love video and they use that to help the kids love books. You can check out more about that here-

Why can't new media/new technology be the friend of books? Yes, it seems like a strange relationship, but it seems to be working. Will it die out when the novelty wears off? It's hard to say. But in the meantime I hope to see more people brought back to books.

Beth Staples said...

As a follow up to this post, I read this morning that a book trailer made onto the list of YouTube's most viewed videos, which is pretty interesting. You can see the full story here: We still don't know if people will buy or read the book, but St. Martin's is really pushing the trailer and, at the very least, people are watching.