Sunday 23 September 2007

Coming To A Bookshop Near You

Yesterday I came across something I'd never seen before, courtesy of Danielle's blog. It's down the bottom of this post...

A book trailer! Apparently these were very popular and much discussed in Summer 2006, but it passed me by, and you'll forgive me if I give the concept a bit of a mention here. So far I have only seen two such trailers - one on Danielle's blog, and the other on a Harper site. Talk about the sublime and the ridiculou
s - Pamela Thompson, discussing Every Past Thing, made me feel intrigued. She was intelligent and passionate, the surroundings were beautiful, and the discussion, though fairly cursory, was interesting, character-based and, above all, relevant. The Harper trailer, which will remain nameless because I can't remember the name, was nothing more than a bad slide show accompanied by weak dance music. As opponents of the book trailer point out, many seem to think that they ought to be music videos, or a series of photos spliced together with various exciting 'screenwipes'. Hmm.

Trailers are rather a strange concept even in the world of film - they should be enticing without taking every good aspect of the film; understandable without giving away the plot; last th
ree minutes but give a good idea of the cinematic experience. Tricky. And when this is transferred to literature - too much voiceover must be the anaethma of any trailer, but that's what a book is: text. How do you find a compromise in presenting an inherently linguistic medium through an inherently visual and (to a lesser extent) audial one? In my humble, a mini-interview with the author, interspersed with atmospheric videoing, is probably the best way to go - re-enactments of scenes are always tacky. Remember the Big Read's attempts?

So, what do you think? To Trailer or not To Trailer?


  1. I just watched this trailer and to be honest it did not make me want to rush out and read the book. I might have liked it better if I HAD read the book as I often want to know more about the authors and the background afterwards.

  2. It's a difficult one ... but I agree with Harriet about the before and the after. Although you know what Oscar Wilde said about the way people felt about meeting an author after reading the work? (That it was about as interesting as meeting the goose after eating foie gras.) I don't entirely agree, but I do know that often the book itself will say better what it meant to say than the author ever can afterwards.

  3. I sort of like book trailers--at least well done ones. Maybe it is just the novelty of them. I tend to come across them after I've bought a book or am looking for more information on a title, so I am not sure I would buy a book solely on having seen one (as I rarely come across the trailer ahead of time). It's just another form of advertising, and I figure you can't blame an author for trying to get the word out on a new book--especially if they are relatively unknown. HarperCollins seems to do a lot of these trailers.

  4. Let me think about this logically... a movie trailer is in the same medium as a movie. So a book 'trailer' should be in the same medium - the written word. And since, as you say, a movie trailer comprises of the most enticing parts of a film, a book trailer should essentially be the most enticing excerpts of the text. Is this not relatively commonplace already?


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