[ Small Chirp ] Book Trailers the Next Big Thing?

The other day, I received a two-line email from a friend: Book trailers. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I replied, “I find them so epically dumb that they escape adequate description.”

But when I brought it up with Canary the First, it turns out that I had plenty of words after all.

As close as I can tell, a book trailer is supposed to serve the same function as a movie trailer. They are nothing more than a hype generator–a way to get people excited about the prospect of the forthcoming publication. Often, they have the same verbiage as a back cover blurb or pitch–only this is far flashier than simply printing it out on paper.

Book trailers are a new-ish phenomenon in which one of three things happen:

1. A slide show of images with words stuck in while music plays dramatically in the background.

2. A whole bunch of images with exceptionally melodramatic narration over the top.

3. By some strange miraclesomething interesting happens.

I find the nature of book trailers so utterly counter-intuitive. To me, it is the equivalent of going to a movie and instead of live-action trailers, there are placards full of text telling me how awesome the movie is going to be to watch. (“There will be gun fights, trust us!” it exclaims in Comic Sans.)

If this is an attempt to capture the attention of the internet generation, I think loads of people are going to be endlessly disappointed when it turns out that they actually have to read a book to find out what happens in the trailer’s story. Either that, or this entire enterprise is a last ditch attempt to stir up interest in a mediocre story. The way I see it, if a book is so bad that it needs a trailer, maybe the publishing house should be investing in some night-school writing courses for its authors instead.

What say you, Canaries? Have you seen any good book trailers?

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About theothercanary

Science journalist by day, canary by night, Meg lives with a cat named Thing Two and a computer named Squishy. She has a writing degree from John Hopkins and a Nook that she plans to utilize to its full capacity the next time she needs to escape being chased by zombie raptors. View all posts by theothercanary

16 responses to “[ Small Chirp ] Book Trailers the Next Big Thing?

  • Viv

    In truth I am not sure what to make of them. I saw one really good one and then clicked to read a sample of the book…..and it was dire beyond belief.
    Plus my own skills are such that I’d not have a clue how to put one together without either a) going insane b) getting done for copyright infringement or c) making such a hash of it that “literary fiction” becomes somewhat camp comedy or pastiche.
    I shall wait and see, I think!

  • DebE

    I don’t see what a slide show of images, lame music and melodramatic voice overs have to do with book-reading at all. You hit the nail right on the head here.

  • stevebetz

    I’ve seen a few of these and I have yet to see one that’s good. And for me, one of the things I like about reading is imagining what the characters look and sound like — so I don’t want that colored by video.

  • littlemiao

    The concept is so bizarre to me that I have never watched one until today (following your links). I don’t think I was missing much.

    • theothercanary

      It is truly bizarre. I didn’t realize how much such until I’d started hunting for links to this. Some are just so startlingly boring that I can’t image EVER buying the book it’s advertising.

  • Madison Woods

    I’m hoping the fad fades away to oblivion before I nail down my pitch enough to even be capable of making one. It just seems like *everyone* does them now.

  • Madison Woods

    I’m watching a ‘trailer’ right now, but it doesn’t fit the usual format. This is an interpretive dance video of live ballet. I suppose it is themed after all the winning stories in the contest. At any rate, it’s much different than others I’ve seen, including the length. It’s 168 minutes long!! Here’s the link if you want to watch it. There’s narrative at about 8.3 minutes. You have to click to watch “Writers of the Future Volume 27″ if you want to see the one I’m talking about.

    This type isn’t within the scope of an ordinary writer, but I thought it was interesting. http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

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