Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The newest thing: book trailers

Books that do! ;)Have you heard about the relatively recent new trend of book trailers? More and more publishers are starting to actively market their new offerings through video trailers, just like the ones you see for new movies. Well, maybe not just like them — most of the ones I’ve seen are just atrocious!

The first one I saw, strangely, was for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “new” book, The Children of Húrin — and this one’s actually very well made. It helps that most of the visuals come from the illustrated editions of Tolkien’s books and that the music is very good. Watch it here.

Then, for comparison, stop by the Book Trailers blog and watch a few of those. If you can stand it. Every now and then, you’ll come across a trailer that might actually make you interested in reading the book (almost by accident, as it seems) — but most are bad, bad, bad. Dreadful voiceovers, awful choices for images and logos, and even horrible actors putting on scenes from the books. My favorite of the latter (the worst of the worst, if you will; so bad it almost flips the scale over and becomes good, or at least entertaining, hahae) is the trailer for the hackneyed thriller, Power Play, by Joseph Finder. You just have to watch it to appreciate how truly awful (and inadvertently funny) it is. My favorite line is the over-the-top voiceover: “Now, it’s up to one man ... who wasn’t even supposed to be there.” What is this, a suspense novel or Clerks?!

Another strange one is the trailer for 13 Bullets, by David Wellington, an FBI-versus-vampire potboiler. The trailer consists of time-lapse footage of a guy getting made up as a vampire. At the end, he hisses at us, and then we see the hilarious (unwittingly, I’m sure) tagline: “Vampires that don’t suck.” Get it? ’Cause vampires do suck. Only we’re supposed to think this book doesn’t. So clever. But I’m afraid the trailer that’s supposed to be getting you interested in the book is going to have you wishing for 13 bullets of your own.

And lest you think the books are as amateurish as the trailers, these are real books from real publishers, like Random House and Simon & Shuster. Or at least, some are reputable; others appear to be self- or vanity-published. But if you ever write that great American novel, be sure to visit Jillett Productions, who can custom-tailor a book trailer of your very own at bargain basement prices. No, no; I’m sure they’re very good. Hmm, let me just take a look at one of their samples ... “If you’re like most people, you probably always wondered how to slaughter a wild boar and then feed its head to some flesh-eating beetles.” (Not kidding.)

Oh the humanity! *smirk*


  1. I think the trailer for "Power Play" is enought to put me off book trailers alltogether. It's almost enough to put me off of voice overs....blech!

    Cool find/post, sweetheart!

  2. Thanks, honey! Glad you enjoyed it. That Power Play trailer was really, really bad — especially the V/O. You could do so much better! ;^)

  3. Trailers have been around for years.
    Booksellers are loving them and taking them to use because the public likes them.
    Of course, they aren't all winners.
    You can see more here-

    COS Productions, the pioneers of book trailers have won over a dozen top film awards for many of their trailers.

    Here are a couple to check out-

    The Harrowing


    Lessons of Desire
    The Summoner
    (this was done for $250)

    Absolute Fear


    A lot of young people LOVE these visual aids. Hey! If it gets them to read I think they're great!

  4. Hi English, thanks for the links. Those were some interesting trailers, and representative of several genres. Most of them were not too bad, but — at the risk of hurting somebody’s feelings out there somewhere — the one for Lessons of Desire is TERRIBLE! My new nominee for worst book trailer ever. And sooooo long. Like, three times the length of the average book trailer. Ouch!

  5. Do have a look at this trailer for Tom Harper's Lost Temple. I hope it's not as cringeworthy as some! I'd genuinely love to know what you think.
    (this one cost less than £250)

  6. Hello John!

    Thanks for the comment and trailer — which I have just watched. It’s definitely not as bad as most that I’ve seen, though I don’t tend to like “dramatic” book trailers with actors doing “scenes” from the book, personally. I think it takes away readers’ freedom to picture characters and scenes in their own way. But setting that aside, it is pretty well made. The “acting” is helped considerably by the fact that there is no spoken dialogue.

    I do have to say that the Greek who’s digging for that clay tablet by smashing a blunt tool into the earth ... Umm, it’s lucky he saw the tablet, isn’t it? Because his excavating techniques seem pretty likely to destroy anything he finds. Rather like panning for gold with a jackhammer. ;)

    So the trailer’s not bad. The book, though, that’s another story. It looks like a predictable potboiler assembled from the same formula as — and transparently capitalizing on the success of — The Da Vinci Code. It may just be my own taste, but this isn’t a book I’d read — and no trailer, no matter how good, could interest me in it.


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