Lately I've been seeing an awful lot of book trailers, which means I've seen a lot of awful book trailers. What's a book trailer? Nothing more than a 30-second hyped-up slide show with a soundtrack. Lots of publishers and authors are excited about this Great Innovation, but take it from an internet junkie: the only people thrilled by these things are publishers and authors. If the trailers are getting lots of hits, that's because every publisher and author with an internet connection is running over to have a look at the competition. Perhaps quite a few readers are viewing the things, clicking over via publishers' and authors' websites and blogs. But those people already know about the books, don't they? So how is this good marketing?
If you've never seen a book trailer, take a look at this one for a Harper Collins book. I was intrigued when the first image showed an astronomical observatory because in my wild youth, I dreamed of becoming an astronomer. (I grew up to write romance novels, instead.) But the trailer was confusing and downright silly. And I was disgusted by this "dramatic" line: "I'd grown accustomed to things measured in light years. Then the night brought her...and before I knew it, light years became seconds."
They should have run that script by a fifth-grade science student. Then they'd have learned that light years can't be compared to seconds because a light year is not a measure of time, but of distance. They might as well have said, "...and before I knew it, miles became seconds." Stupid, right?
I'm getting off track, but that's no wonder because the subject of book trailers is boring. Listen, I'm no marketing expert, but I am a bookbuyer, and one who uses the internet daily. That means book trailers are aimed at me. So when I say they aren't impressing me, maybe some of the authors and publishers who are so excited about the things ought to pay some attention.
Book trailers are slow-loaders even on a broadband connection, meaning that dial-up users--who still make up almost half of all internet users here in the U.S.--are excluded from the potential audience. And I have yet to be pointed to a book trailer except by that book's author or publisher. Frankly, the trailers just aren't clever enough to induce anyone to link to them and make them go "viral." As I mentioned earlier, they're just slide shows. They suggest movement by jiggling the photos and spinning them and zooming in and out, but those of us with broadband are used to watching real video clips on the internet, so we're a hard bunch to impress. I have yet to see a bulletin-board post or a blog entry (by parties other than the publishers and authors and those connected to them) raving about the latest hilarious or scary or intriguing book trailer and urging everyone to go take a look. And if ordinary people like me aren't talking about and linking to book trailers, perhaps those advertising dollars would be better spent elsewhere.
If you would like to rag on or rave about a book trailer, please leave a comment here. And be sure to give us links.
UPDATED JUNE 2, 2007
This post is still getting daily hits from Google, so I thought I'd better update it. Taking a lesson on what not to do from all of the boring book trailers I've seen, I recently created one of my own. You can view it at this post.
Technorati Tags: publishing, books, book+trailers