MTV of books
June 11, 2014 11:15 PM   Subscribe

Publishers Weekly: "What MTV did for music videos and record sales, BookReels wants to do for book trailers and book sales." No, but they have collected about 3000 book trailers and interviews. New Yorker: The Awkward Art of Book Trailers: "Then there is the leading book-trailer auteur of our time, Gary Shteyngart." TheRumpus: Fantastic Book Trailers and the Reasons They’re So Good: "There tends to exist a general skepticism toward book trailers."
posted by stbalbach (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I want to see Guy Maddin do some of these.
posted by clockzero at 11:40 PM on June 11, 2014

What MTV did for music videos

What, stop showing them?
posted by aubilenon at 12:18 AM on June 12, 2014

I believe Mefi's own PhoBWanKenobi has put together a trailer or two in her time. Will be interested in her take on things.

I'm an avid reader, but they don't really do it for me, when I get find well-informed reviews from people with takes I agree with, the previous author's ouevre, the typically-reliable summaries from Kirkus or Publisher's Weekly, and the blurb copy which - against all the odds - still manages to provide a decent idea of what a book will be like when cross-referenced with the cover.

I mean for me, a trailer is yet another step away from the source. A great director can take a shitty book and make a good movie. Much harder to fake it in a review.
posted by smoke at 3:54 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

That Shteyngart trailer is fantastic. I didn't click all the links yet, but is this where we get the chance to post our favorite trailers? Because BJ Novak FTW
posted by Mchelly at 4:45 AM on June 12, 2014

The idea that people don't spend time "perusing shelves" or "reading book reviews" is astounding. How else do you figure out what to read? What do these trailers have to do with the books they're promoting? Why do I care about the author's visual sensibilities? Tell me about the prose.

On the one hand, the Buzzfeedification of all media probably makes pap like this necessary; on the other, do the people who only respond to cutesy videos really make up a big part of potential readers? Evidently publishers think so. It seems odd to me.

That said, although I don't "get" it as a "trailer," and I'm relatively cool on Shteyngart's writing, I did really enjoy the linked video. He's a fine straight man (as it were).
posted by uncleozzy at 4:49 AM on June 12, 2014

Anyway, I don't think this is an issue of needing to resort to one medium to promote another. The best way to discover a book (in my opinion) - standing in a bookstore and picking it up at random and being won by whatever combination of the front cover and the synopsis - is also using other methods of persuasion as well. Ccover art is a well-established extra hook that is absolutely someone else's interpretation of the work (awful case in point). Nowadays, there are so few bookstores left, and the ones we have are so crowded and packed that it's much harder to have that serendipitous brush up against a book. People are reading on Kindles and tablets, so you don't catch a glance of an intriguing cover across the subway car or cafe as often. I don't believe reading is dying, but I do think that the world is noisier and there's nothing wrong with making a little noise to call attention to your book. (full disclosure: I have a novel coming out next year and am really looking forward to making a trailer for it).
posted by Mchelly at 7:09 AM on June 12, 2014

I didn't know book trailers were a real thing. What % of major publishing house books get trailers? Even among the big ones, it still has to be very, very small, right? 5% tops? I honestly have 0 idea, but 3,000 seems very, very small.

The only book trailer I've ever watched was for Inherent Vice. I'm not sure of their marketing value. The only people who are gonna watch them are the people who are going to buy the book anyway, i.e. vanity projects (or just plain fun) rather than effective marketing.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on June 12, 2014

Book trailers are indeed a real thing ( PhoB's one is here and it's awesome) I wonder if I missed my calling since I enjoy both books and have access to professional camera and editing equipment.
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2014

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