The Book Trailer – Do We Really Need This?

The 2010 Moby Awards to celebrate the best and worst of book trailers are just around the corner. I watched several of them and had the same thought I had when I watched the Spanish trailer for Enrique Villa-Matas’ latest book: why? I understand publishers are looking for new ways to engage the audience, but these stilted, often unimaginative readings of the author’s works don’t really sell the work. They don’t compel me to read the books, but, instead, suck the life from them. The publishers seem to mistake the book, its plot, its characters, its style, its feel for something that can be reduced to drama or an impressionistic musing on the author’s wittiness. Seldom do they actually give me a sense of the book. Unlike a film trailer where you watch snippets of the actual film and have some sense of what the film will look like, a book trailer at best gives you a plot summary. Perhaps for one of the countless zombie books it doesn’t really matter, but if you come an author who shows a clip from a Hindi film that the author consciously acknowledges has nothing to do with the book, what does that say about the book? I have an idea of what it says about the author and perhaps that might be sufficient to do more research, but I’m doubtfull. Moreover, the book trailers, unlike film trailers, don’t actually come with other books. They are separate from the reading experience. You have to seek them out. Perhaps when the Kindle, the iPad and the other readers have the ability to show videos publishers can package the videos with their books. For the time being, it is a bit of a stretch.

Perhaps I’m the wrong person for these things. I have seen so many film trailers that looked horrible and didn’t sell me on the film, even if I had heard about the film and was eagerly looking forward to it. The trailer is an art and if these book trailers last they will change. Hopefully, they can look more like this first example than the second.

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