book trailers, but no network 08.29.2006, 9:30 AM
posted by jesse wilbur
We often conceive of the network as a way to share culture without going through the traditional corporate media entities. The topology of the network is created out of the endpoints; that is where the value lies. This story in the NY Times prompted me to wonder: how long will it take media companies to see the value of the network?
The article describes a new marketing tool that publishers are putting into their marketing arsenal: the trailer. As in a movie trailer, or sometimes an informercial, or a DVD commentary track.
"The video formats vary as widely as the books being pitched. For well-known authors, the videos can be as wordy as they are visual. Bantam Dell, a unit of Random House, recently ran a series in which Dean Koontz told funny stories about the writing and editing process. And Scholastic has a video in the works for "Mommy?," a pop-up book illustrated by Maurice Sendak that is set to reach stores in October. The video will feature Mr. Sendak against a background of the book's pop-ups, discussing how he came up with his ideas for the book."
Who can fault them for taking advantage of the Internet's distribution capability? It's cheap, and it reaches a vast audience, many of whom would never pick up the Book Review. In this day and age, it is one of the most cost effective methods of marketing to a wide audience. By changing the format of the ad from a straight marketing message to a more interesting video experience, the media companies hope to excite more attention for their new releases. "You won't get young people to buy books by boring them to death with conventional ads,'' said Jerome Kramer, editor in chief of The Book Standard."
But I can't help but notice that they are only working within the broadcast paradigm, where advertising, not interactivity, is still king. All of these forms (trailer, music video, infomercial) were designed for use with television; their appearance in the context of the Internet further reinforces the big media view of the 'net as a one-way broadcast medium. A book is a naturally more interactive experience than watching a movie. Unconventional ads may bring more people to a product, but this approach ignores one of the primary values of reading. What if they took advantage of the network's unique virtues? I don't have the answers for this, but only an inkling that publishing companies would identify successes sooner and mitigate flops earlier, that the feedback from the public would benefit the bottom line, and that readers will be more engaged with the publishing industry. But the first step is recognizing that the network is more than a less expensive form of television.
Jesse Wilbur on August 29, 2006 12:00 PM:
A search for 'book review' on You Tube brings up other examples, some peer-produced, some corporate. A few of the trailers are for films based on books. You can see a real difference in quality between the movie industry trailers and everything else. But the gap isn't as wide between homemade trailers and publisher funded trailers. I think that is telling: the publishers should be focusing on what they are good at, and right now, that's not making a thrilling trailer.
I'm curious to see how the other types of content work (infomercial, interview, music video), though if Author Views is any indication, they aren't much more compelling.
Sheila Clover English on August 31, 2006 1:28 AM:
As the acknowledged originator of the concept of Book Trailers, which began in 2002, I have made it a study to find uses for, and evolve, the final product as well as its distribution opportunities.
I worked for 18 years in the scientific community before deciding to try my hand in the creative arena. So, when I began to do a study of online communities back in Feb. of this year, I set it up so that I can quantify certain aspects of my research. I plan on releasing a paper on this study before the end of the year. I will touch upon several aspects including, but not limited to:
1. Outlining each community. What it offers, costs, community outreach, effectiveness, requirements and voice.
2. Information on the use of meta tags within a unique community.
3. Basic statistics for each community, including overall number of members, projections, etc.
4. A survey asking those community members who elected to join a particular site why they chose that site.
5. A review of the top/most popular types of video specific to books or authors.
I agree that using the online venue needs to be more engaging. The people who frequent online communities know when you're showing them an ad. So, the ad better be entertaining.
Other entertainment industries have advanced on many levels. From product placement, to merchandising, distribution and special effects to awe and amaze the public. The book industry has ebooks and author websites. But, Book Trailers allow for the industry to expand into new demographics, reminding people that books are entertainment.
The video itself can be daunting. If the video is bad, can it hurt the book? Well, people are still buying A Million Little Pieces.
We started by using Digital Video to tape our trailers. Film is so cost prohibitive. So, some people think they're "cheap" and guess what, they are. Instead of paying over $25,000 for a commercial (and some are over $100,000) they are paying $3000 - $5000. We are switching to High Def in 2007 so we'll go to a more filmic look, but our cost will remain the same.
We are leading the industry in where these can be used. I know, because it's easy to see that they've signed up for our newsletter or even on our MySpace. We've put them online, on television (including cable), and in movie theaters. And, once our online community research is complete and we write it up for publication, I'm sure many will follow suit. But, we have identified a way to make this all interactive. And, in 2007 we will announce that, still, if you look hard enough, you'll find it in place already.
I hope that Book Trailers will be the next generation of marketing for books just like music videos were for the music industry. And I hope that everyone benefits from that; the publisher, the author and the reader.
Steve Weber on September 2, 2006 8:49 AM:
The original poster asked, Why isn't there more innovation with book trailers, why do they look like cheap TV commercials?
Perhaps it's because most book trailers today are being produced for the same conglomerate publishers whose business models are threatened by digital media. For the most part, these publishers don't believe in giving away some real content as a way to generate word of mouth.
We're still in the early days. Production of digital video is getting cheaper and easier all the time. When we reach the point where most micropublishers and self-publishers are uploading video content to promote their books, we'll see more innovation.
Corey Aaron Burkes on August 28, 2007 7:33 PM:
I agree ... book trailers up till now are boring and flat, which is why I created Bestseller Trailers to help put an emotional connection between the content and the potential readers. Yes, there is an strong element to advertise in our trailers ... but first and foremost, they are vivid, creative and designed to make people interested in the book ... which is the bottomline as far as an author is concerned. Visit bestsellertrailers.com and check out our work.
Patrick Muir on November 1, 2007 5:16 PM:
Check out this book trailer for a young adult fantasy book THE CANDY SHOP WAR.
The trailer is different because it doesn't address the plot or characters from the book. They made it look like an old news reel about magical candy and simple said to learn more read the book.