August 29, 2011

Coming Attractions, Book-style

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:53 pm by The Word Jar

Confession: I’m new to book trailers. In a far corner of my mind, I knew they existed as a publishing world marketing tool, but I never bothered to check any out. I assumed book trailers would be guilty of the same thing that movies based on books are guilty of–giving the reader preconceived ideas and images about the characters, places, and plots of the book instead of letting the reader *read* the book and form her own book-based universe.

Now that I’ve done some research and checked out a few book trailers, I’ve found that many of them aren’t what I expected at all. I envisioned short film versions of the books, but I found they are more like commercials for books. As with commercials for every product, there are hits and misses (as highlighted below). But in most instances, these book trailers are not guilty of anything except selling me on reading the books they are promoting. Even though book trailers can be entertaining, I still prefer to get my book recommendations from friends and family and other trustworthy review sources. (Full disclosure: The book trailers I highlight below are all for books that I had already planned to read. Whether or not a book trailer could make me want to read a book I hadn’t already heard of remains to be seen, but in one instance, the book trailer did make me a little hesitant to read the spotlighted book.)

And now dim the lights, here are your coming attractions…

A few weeks ago I featured the book trailer for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I just stumbled onto this book trailer while reading through some of the publicity it was receiving at BEA. It was my first time viewing a book trailer, and it is going to be pretty hard to top. It’s a winning combination of music, whimsy, and story description. It still makes me smile every time I watch it, so let’s feature it again.

Recently a publisher alerted me to another, quite different, book trailer. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Scandinavian thriller (who can get enough of those these days?) about a cop who recently got shot on the job and gets promoted to run a new department that focuses on cold cases. The first case handled by the new department is the alleged accidental death of a rising politician. Her body was never recovered, and some believe that she was murdered. In actuality (not a spoiler) she has been kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured for five years. The book trailer for The Keeper of Lost Causes effectively conveys the dark, twisted mood of the book.

Another book that’s coming up on my reading list is Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Just My Type is being described as an entertaining history of fonts, but I didn’t find the book trailer to be too entertaining. I still consider it a successful book trailer because it puts a unique spotlight on the book’s title and subject matter.

I’m disappointed to say the book trailer for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a miss. The actors make the book trailer feel too much like a movie, and that is what I didn’t want book trailers to be. I imagined Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children being much darker than what the book trailer leads me to believe. With a grandfather telling his grandson this story, it feels lighter and more whimsical rather than dark and peculiar. The end of the book trailer delves into that darkness a little, but for now, I’ve moved this book a few notches down my reading list. (Another miss, from the same publisher, Quirk Books, is the book trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Again, it’s the acting.)

And we’ll end on a high note. A hit for Quirk Books is the book trailer for Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook. This is a close second to The Night Circus. If you don’t want to read this book after seeing this book trailer–hairball and all–I don’t know what will make you want to read it.

What do you think of book trailers? Are they an effective way for publishers to get people to read their books? What are your favorite book trailers?


1 Comment »

  1. basiasbookshelf said,

    I love the trailer for The Night Circus! You stopped by my blog because I used a couple of lines from it for my Tuesday Teasers and invited me over to see it. I don’t usually think trailers are that well done frankly, but this was perfect for the book, just the right tone.

    Thanks, I’d never have come across it without you linking me to your blog post for me!

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