Book Trailers: Ads, Lure, and Paradox

Watched any good book trailers lately?  No, not movies, books. Book trailers… they’ve been around since 2003. You might be aware that more and more publishers and authors are embracing this marketing tool in recent years.

If you type in the term ‘book trailers’ on YouTube, you can find many of them cater to the mash and morph generation. Quirk Books, publisher of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has produced some popular trailers of their modern takes on classic works. Amazon named their  “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” book trailer as the best book trailer of 2009.

Now, I don’t want to digress and start talking about the morphing of the classics with contemporary culture, or things like getting the news from The Colbert Report, I’ll leave those to another post. But since book trailers have piqued my interest lately, let me show you their more recent release: The Meowmorphosis, a contemporary twist on Kafka’s classic. Here’s the book trailer (If you can’t view the videos on this post, click on the link to watch them on YouTube. And, do come back):

But of course, book trailers are for all. When you spread your net, you want to catch as wide a multitude as possible, don’t you? Look at this one promoting an upcoming book by the popular crime fiction writer Michael Connelly:

You probably think you’re watching a movie trailer. And that’s what I speculate, book trailers just might well be prompts for potential movie adaptations. Film option, anyone? And for Connelly, he already has two of his books turned into popular movies: ‘Blood Work’ (2002, Clint Eastwood), and ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (2011, Matthew McConaughey)

But really, book trailers are an attractive bunch, most of them. They appeal to the digitally savvy and visually driven. While some readers may not appreciate the visualization of the literary, leaving little room for imagination, others welcome these dramatizations and animations. Their stunning effects can be just mesmerizing. Look at this trailer with over 1 million views, Going West by New Zealand novelist Maurice Gee:

What a marvel of video production, don’t you agree? Now, here’s a more important question: Will you go and buy this book to read after watching the trailer, or, are you more likely to just add another view count to the video and a click on ‘like’?

This last trailer just about sums up the apparent paradox: It takes the visual to sell the word. I’d held Lane Smith’s appealing hardcover children’s book It’s A Book in my hands in a bookstore, marvelled at its conception. Look at this adorable trailer:

In this eWorld of ours, we need a real hardcover book to explain to children what a book is… or used to be, if you take the apocalyptic view.  We’re told a book isn’t something you scroll, tweet, or text, and no need to charge up. But the fact is, those are the very functions you do to view and share the trailer.

And it’s a book trailer, with all its visual images and special effects, uploaded and viewed online and hopefully gone viral, that helps boost book sales. Another mash? Or simply an inevitable paradox nowadays?

And, speaking of paradox, can you imagine the eBook version of It’s A Book?