On Book Trailers

I read an article in the NYTimes Online today that discusses the importance of book trailers in today's publishing industry. "In the streaming video era, with the publishing industry under relentless threat, the trailer is fast becoming an essential component of online marketing. Asked to draw on often nonexistent acting skills, authors are holding forth for anything from 30 seconds to 6 minutes, frequently to the tune of stock guitar strumming, soulful violin or klezmer music. And now, those who once worried about no one reading their books can worry about no one watching their trailers."

It's undeniable that book trailers are the next big thing. We've even got book trailer awards and trailers with almost 5 million hits but at the end of the day, who are these trailers being marketed to? Are publishers hoping to reach avid readers who are constantly adding to their TBR list, or are they going after the demographic who watches more youtube videos in a day than they read pages out of a book?

For me, I've never bought a book based on it's trailer. But then again, I haven't seen that many book trailers. I can remember the first book trailer I ever saw, about two years ago, which also happens to be the most viral trailer. It promotes Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan through a series of touching anecdotes.

But did it work? Did I buy the book? No, I already told you I've never bought a book because of its trailer, silly. However, when I was at BEA last year I saw they were giving it away and grabbed a copy, which is still sitting in a box in my basement waiting to be read.

I'm not knocking book trailers. I think anything out there that promotes reading is a good thing. But I do question it's effectiveness. Maybe 10 years down the road when next generation's avid readers are purchasing books they will pick out a few from a trailer they saw. But until then, have any of you ever bought a book because of it's trailer?


  1. It's funny to me that book trailers are thought of as important in the publishing industry, because it's only in the past few days (through others' blog posts) that the concept has bashed its way into my awareness. I guess I didn't even realize it was a common or widespread thing until I read what you've written here. Not that the publishing industry hinges on my awareness.

    Anyway, although I have recently noticed the existence of book trailers, I haven't actually watched any of them yet. So, obviously, for me the answer to your question is "no." (Or not yet?)

  2. Kathy - I guess I never thought of that just because I keep up with publishing news. But your comment says a lot about who is actually watching these trailers. Thanks for your feedback :)

  3. I think the jury is still out on book trailers. The litmus test, of course, is whether or not the customer bought the book.

    I've actually read an article about trailers a few days ago, they are targeting towards teens and young adults.

    Personally, I think it's a great idea for promoting books. Trailers certainly will not get me to buy a book (yet?) but then again, I'm not their audience.

  4. Kathy - This is a new thing to me too! I had never heard of book trailers until a few weeks ago!

  5. I haven't, but I don't have a problem with it. its just a different form of marketing, part of chainges in tehcnology. We live a capitalist world (most of us anyway) and I think people just need to get used being increasingly advertised to.

  6. I have yet to purchase a book based on a book trailer. In fact I don't even really watch them - I was surprised to find out they were even being made after I stumbled upon one online. It just seems rather strange to me to market a book via trailer. I suppose they are just not my cup of tea. Oh well, I'm sure some bookish folk love them.

  7. Man of la Books - I think you're right. It's going to work for the younger generation but it's kind of lost on me.

    Becky - You're also right. Especially in the publishing industry where everything is changing they are going to do what they can to market their books.

    Nadia - I don't watch them either. I'm not even sure where people find them. I watched a few that were nominated for awards but nothing really stuck with me.

  8. Everything is changing. I'm reading Gore Vidal's Palimpsest, and he talks about his era (late 40s through early 60s) was the last great era of "Literature" being a "popular" medium. In other words, true literary greats like Faulkner, Capote, Tennessee Williams, Updike, Salinger, et al were the celebrities of the time because reading was such a part of American culture. It was when the intellectual was celebrated as opposed to being vilified by the public, media, etc. Way past my time, but I'm nostalgic for such a paradigm nonetheless.

  9. Tyrie - That sounds like a really interesting book. Something I would like. I wish I could have lived in an era when literature was a significant part of culture. When the majority of people read for entertainment and talked about books socially. It's funny because I am reading Glamorama right now which highlights the celebrity obsessed culture of the 90's. Your book and mine would make for an interesting juxtaposition.

  10. I didn't know about booktrailers till I started bookblogging and saw them mentioned on a few blogs. I've only watched the one for Going Bovine because someone posted about it while I was reading it and my curiousity got the better of me. hey, the author was wearing a cow suit!

    I don't plan to watch anymore-- seems a waste of time to me. Maybe publishers are going to zap trailers to all the e-readers... hmm... could be a diabolical plan.

    I agree with you and Tyrie-- wouldn't a pre-tv world be glorious for bookworms-- so many people to talk books with.