Saturday, 24 October 2009

Book Trailers

I recently read Neal Stephenson's Anathem. Amazing, just like his Baroque Cycle, Cryptonomicon and Snowcrash. Although I'd love to see a movie adaptation, I realise that they are probably too complicated and too niche to ever get to Hollywood. Then, I found a trailer for Anathem online. But it wasn't for a movie, it was for the book:



I'd never heard of book trailers before. Seeing it after reading it was weird - some characters were different than I had imagined, but the re-construction of the fight scene is done word-for-word. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It had fairly high production values, and it was quite cool to see how other people visualised the scences. However, there's always the danger of being dissapointed by another person's idea of the book. For example, although I loved Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, I didn't much like the look and feel of the film.

However, at least with a film converstion, you have a chance to read the book first. Could book trailers start limiting our imaginaitons? Am I sounding a bit like an old person? Maybe. I started looking for other book trailers.

After hearing about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I was thrilled to see a well-polished trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters:



Although I couldn't find any other high-quality productions, I quite enjoyed the trailer for the children's book How to Save Your Tail, a re-telling of the 1001 Arabian Nights. It actually made me want to read the book. Brad Meltzer's trailer was also good fun, and looked like it was just made for fun too.

However, most of them were just text, pictures and a voice over (lamented by Phyllis Miller). Some have the tell-tale Windows Moviemaker blue background, others are a bit more snazzy, but ultimately are no more informative than a back-cover blurb. I found this one particularly annoying.

It turns out that book trailers are not a new thing. Here's an article from 2006 which discusses the difficulty of presenting images without influencing the way people percieve their characters. In a more recent post, Jonathan Fields argues that book trailers don't work because marketing advisors don't understand that a straight-up commercial approach won't get a trailer to go viral.

Actually, I quite like the idea, and hope it catches on. I'll be keeping an eye out for book trailers in the future.

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