Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-23: Do Book Trailers Do It For You?








In the last year or two a new entity has arisen in the publishing world: the book trailer. Apparently every self-respecting book has to have one these days so it seemed a good time to have a chat about them. Feel free to answer as many (or as few) of these questions as you like.

    • Do you watch book trailers?
    • If yes, do you actively seek them out or just watch the ones that get pushed to you in some way?
    • If you don't watch them, why not?
    • Have you ever read a book based solely on seeing the trailer? What book was it and what did you like about the trailer?
    • Where do book trailers come on your list of things that influence you with regards to what books to read (friends' recommendations, mainstream reviews, bloggers, bookstore promotions, the blurb....)?
    • Do you have a favourite book trailer that you'd like to share? What do you like about it?

I personally do not like book trailers, in my mind books exist in my head to be imagined so it should not exist in any other form. So I think that answers the next few questions – I don’t actively seek them out because they do nothing for me. In fact, they are more likely to have the opposite of the desired effect which is to sell a book to you. I personally don’t see why we need some flashy visual to read a book, can’t people concentrate long enough on maybe reading a description or a review?

The ones I have come across in the past I have never liked – even for books I have enjoyed. Here is one for Bleeding Heart Square, by Andrew Taylor – my favourite author.

The information put across is nothing that I hadn’t already read in the description, so it does absolutely nothing for me. At least it isn’t imposing too much on me though. This is how they started out I think – as a series of images and sounds. Since then they’ve somewhat advanced…

This one for Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is quite well made, well thought out and imaginative. It isn’t my kind of book though, but I happened to see this trailer and it is quite good. It still didn’t manage to sell the book to me though. I’m turned off by the fact I’ve been given images of the characters that might not be my own.

Looking up more book trailers I see they have gone a little bit more up market then when I last saw one! They seem more professional and less like something made in a garage. Still – I admit I am a bit of an old stick in the mud. I don’t like book trailers simply because books are not visual things, they require imagination and this just takes that imagination away.

This one is almost like a movie itself, although still a bit cheesy.

I still don’t really know what it’s about though. I haven’t heard of the book and I’m not inspired by this to look it up. Maybe that’s just my own aversion to book trailers.. They annoy me – you might say that I should maybe just ‘get with the times’ etc and stop being so old fashioned. But a book is a book, why does it have to be made into a mini-film? When I read a book I want to see my own world, my own characters – I don’t want to be influenced by something like a book trailer where the music, the tone, the atmosphere is set by whoever made it. I want to see it for myself.

I wouldn’t mind if it was the author or someone talking about the book itself rather then a little mini-movie type thing with occasional dodgy acting.

Although, not all of them are like that. This one for Ishiguro’s book Nocturnes is actually really good.


And this one for Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver is also really well made and interesting.

What I do like about these is that they are really well thought out, different and imaginative. They don’t impose actors or characters on you – they are quite nice to watch in their own right. I wouldn’t say they made me think “ooh that book sounds good” but they’d probably make me want to look the book up and read the description – find out what it’s about. I guess these two feel like extended book covers – because book covers influence me less online then they do in a shop. They are aesthetically interesting but I still need to turn to the back to find out about it.

Book trailers still come at the very bottom of things that influence me to buy books – in fact they don’t even come at the bottom – they don’t even exist as things that influence me because I’d never go looking for them and I’ve only ever come across a few – perhaps a dozen – that I’ve stumbled across and none of them really stick in my mind. None of them made me think ‘oh I want to read that’. What influences me are reviews I read on Goodreads or on blogs – friend recommendations and random whims.

I actually don’t want to say that I don’t like book trailers – whatever gets someone to read a book I guess is a good thing. I do wonder that they trivialise reading – a book is about inner imagination. The trailers for Perfect Chemistry and Pastworld I really don’t like because they just don’t translate to me. I see them and I don’t think “oh I want to read that” because it doesn’t invoke reading to me, as a book review or whatever might. I don’t find them inspiring – just slightly irritating and boring.

That’s just me though. I prefer more traditional approaches then these newfandangled things. I did start this blog post of by saying that I couldn’t see why we need flashy visuals but I did end up finding a couple that I do think have their merits and in the end, that is all down to personal taste.


  1. I actually quite dislike the Perfect Chemistry trailer. Like, I get that it's supposed to be funny, but those characters are not how I imagined them to look. I think the models on the cover would have been a better fit.

  2. I don't really like book trailers and don't really pay them much attention.I don't want some else's idea of what a charater looks like. For thi s reason, among others,
    I definitely prefer the animated ones.

    Despite that the Pastworld one looked interesting although I'm sure I heard that premise used in a short story.

    My favorite of your chioces was the trailer for Shiver, a book I look forward to reading.
    Another trailer I liked was the one for Incarceron

  3. I haven't seen very many book trailers but I enjoyed seeing the Nocturnes and Shiver trailers you posted here. They seem like a creative effort that complements the book somehow. I'm impressed that the author of Shiver did the art and music as well.

  4. I've watched very few book trailers so don't really feel qualified to comment. I never feel like they're going to sway my opinion, considering that book summaries and book reviews exist, and considering that the author isn't usually the one to make the book trailers.

  5. i liked that last one - not that it tells me anything about the book but i like that the author made it

  6. April - That girl in the trailer looks like a tacky barbie doll, I think she's probably the reason I've never been interested in the book as the trailer was the first thing I saw recommending the book. It's quite entertaining by itself in a way, but has only achieved the opposite of selling it to me.

    Incarceron does look good Esther - maybe I will go and look it up now. There - a book trailer has just worked! I think it works because it doesn't tell you a great deal - still need to read up about it.

    I think that if a trailer gives away too much information then I'm not really inspired to read up about it which means I'm not going anywhere else with it.

    I could never get into Shiver first time I tried - but I'm also impressed that she made the trailer herself. She's obviously a talented person, and a really nice person too. Makes me wanna give it a second go.



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