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Book Trailers – Do You Watch Them?

I’m curious as to whether people actually watch book trailers. Obviously some people watch book trailers, but I’m wondering if you watch book trailers. Yes, you.

Because I don’t watch book trailers, I had to ask myself, What is the point of book trailers? Where would I see a book trailer? If a book looks like something that might pique my interest, You Tube is not my first source of information (nor is it my second, third, or fourth). So how would I end up watching a book trailer?

From what I’ve seen in the (admittedly) few book trailers I’ve see, they don’t even come close to a) doing the book justice or b) making me want to read the book.

Here’s why book trailers don’t work for me: they use one media to try to get me to use another media. Movie trailers work! Because they’re showing me clips of the movie to get me to watch the movie. Book trailers fall flat for me because they can’t show clips of the book like they can with movies. Rather, they have to create clips of the book.

It’s not that I’m opposed to mixing media, it’s just that I don’t see how book trailers get people to read a particular book. But perhaps that is precisely the flaw in my reasoning: I am not the reader book trailers target. Perhaps book trailers are targeting readers who aren’t as involved in books and who are more inclined to watch a movie? I still can’t imagine what kind of impact a book trailer would have on a quasi- or non-reader, though.

So what do you think? Is there something I don’t know? Do you watch book trailers? Has watching a book trailer ever made you want to buy a book that you were previously undecided on? Was a book trailer the first exposure you ever had to a particular book?

Do you watch book trailers?

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| Tags: 65 comments »

65 Responses to “Book Trailers – Do You Watch Them?”

  1. amy btw m

    Sweet, I guess I’m first. Silly thing is, I voted yes, but I would lean more towards sometimes. I didn’t even know books had trailers until I watched one on a book blog, which for me is medium enough for finding a book to read. I suppose for people who sit and watch Youtube a lot, a book trailer would be a good way to get reluctant readers. I haven’t watched enough book trailers to say if they really help in the deciding factor of to read or not to read. One thing I liked about a book trailer I watched was the background music kind of set the tone of the book. That to me was more of a draw than the images. I am a musical person though, so that’s one thing that would stand out for me.

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  2. Meghan

    Well, I had to vote yes but really it’s closer to “sometimes”. If someone posts it on their book blog and I’m interested in the book, I’ll watch it. I don’t go seeking out book trailers. I don’t really think that a book trailer would attract me to a book on its own, or possibly even at all. Perhaps it would attract me more if I was really into movies and not sure I liked reading, like you said, but I’ve never had that issue. I don’t really think they affect me one way or the other. I’m glad you asked that question, I’ll be interested to see what others think.

    Maybe I’ll show my dad, a non-reader who says he doesn’t have the patience to get through a book, one of the trailers and see if it interests him more.

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  3. I Heart Monster

    Depends on the book! If I don’t know what it’s about, then I will watch a trailer. If I have a pretty good idea, I don’t.

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  4. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

    I have only ever watched three book trailers, and these were all ones for books I’d already read.

    I guess I might watch one if I was really interested in the book, but I haven’t really come across them very often. I agree – they aren’t a very good reflection of the book – I’d rather read a few quotes, as that will give me a better feel for the style of the writing.

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  5. American in Britain

    I went with No. This is the first I’d heard of book trailers. I thought it was some snazzy, modern day phrase for what was always called the blurb. 😀 Just looked up a few on youtube – ya live and learn 🙂

    I far prefer to form my own imagery on the youtube screen between my ears. Seeing how someone else envisages it before I read the book would spoil it for me.

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  6. Marg

    Another some times vote for me. The thing with book trailers is that I will watch a trailer for a book I am already interested in, but I wouldn’t necessarily rush to watch a trailer for a book I had never heard of before.

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  7. Kathy

    I have looked at book trailers from time to time, but I don’t really get the concept. Sometimes they confuse me more than anything else.

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  8. Michele

    I don’t watch book trailers. Course I don’t read the backs of books much or watch movie trailers either. I go by recommendations mostly to find books. I’ve never really gotten the concept of a book trailer, honestly.

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  9. Heather J.

    I actually enjoy book trailers, but I don’t actively seek them out. I do watch them when bloggers include them in posts though. Some are really clever and have gotten me interested in books I’d otherwise not pay attention to, but some are, um, odd …

    On the whole I like them though I’m not sure who the intended audience is …

    [Reply]

  10. Tyler Reed

    Great topic! I voted yes, but it’s definitely “sometimes” for me too.
    Couple questions: 1) Do you think they make more sense for YA books, since kids very often extend their reading experience online? And 2) what about for “mixed media” books like Skeleton Creek that have a video component built into the story?

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    trish Reply:

    Tyler, you brought up some great points I hadn’t thought about. I DO think trailers probably are more suited to YA. They have the time and inclination to watch many book trailers, whereas I don’t have either.

    I also think they work well with mixed media books. I think Skeleton Creek was very innovative and original. Even at the ripe old age of 30, I would be interested in Skeleton Creek.

    Thanks for pointing out these two aspects I hadn’t considered!

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  11. jennsbookshelf

    I enjoy book trailers. One of my recent favorites was one that Hachette produced to promote the Kitty Norville series.

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  12. Jen - Devourer of Books

    I voted no, but that isn’t ENTIRELY true. I will occasionally watch book trailers when I see them on another blogger’s site. That being said, I don’t EVER seek them out and they have never ever made me want to watch a book. I entered one author’s contest for a copy of his book. To enter you had to watch the book trailer and tell him what you thought. I said that, honestly, I wanted to read the book in SPITE of the book trailer, which I didn’t think did him any good at all. The ones I’ve seen are generally low budget and cheesy or don’t get across the feeling of the book at all, in my opinion. Give me a sample chapter or a book review anyday.

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  13. Natasha @ Maw Books

    I watch book trailers. But I must admit only for books that I have read and only then after I’ve finished reading the book. I’ve never actively sought out book trailers for books I haven’t read and have never been persuaded to read a book from its trailer. I enjoy posting them on my blog and seem to get a good response from having them available. Yes, many are awful (some so much that I WON’T post it), others are good. I am a visual person, so I do think it’s a fun way to express the book.

    I think that using any medium to try to reach new readers isn’t a bad thing. In my videos of Laurie Halse Anderson that I posted she talked about book trailers. She thinks they are very successful with teen readers because they are online so much and seem to love that type of stuff. For a book like Skeleton Creek, I think that a book trailer was necessary but that’s a very extreme and unique example.

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  14. Janssen

    When a book blog has a trailer with the review, I’m very likely to watch it and a good book trailer can really convince me that the book is worth my time and the effort of acquiring the book.

    I also like to watch the trailers AFTER I read the book and see how I think they measure up.

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  15. natalie @ book, line, and sinker

    lol…i don’t even watch movie trailers.

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    trish Reply:

    WHAT?! Movie trailers are the best part of going to see a movie. If you’re going to be late to a movie, might as well scrap your plans if you’re going to miss the trailers. 😀

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  16. Word Lily

    I rarely watch them (less than a handful of times, total). Even then, generally after I’ve already read the book. I don’t think I book trailer has ever been the reason I wanted to read a book.

    Now, a soundtrack for a book makes so much more sense to me! You can listen to it while reading it, and it (at least in theory) enhances the reading experience.

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  17. Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf

    I have to admit that I have never watched a book trailer. Honestly, I’d rather simply know what the book is about via a synopsis and read reviews of it, as well as look at the cover, of course. I don’t even make it a point to watch movie trailers, other than the ones that come on TV or at the theater.

    I like the above suggestion of a book soundtrack, however. I often find that there are songs I feel would be a good fit for a book. Of course, that might mean that I wouldn’t want to have songs suggested to me, I don’t know, but it’s still an interesting idea.

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  18. Literate Housewife

    Yep, I watch them when they’re available. They are something I look for when I am considering a book. If they are not available, I don’t “penalize” the book. If they are terrible, I don’t either. I like visual stimulus plain and simple. I’ve not found a trailer that gave away any more about a book than the jacket liner. If I were more cinematically astute, I would love to develop and publish book trailers for my favorite books. I don’t know if you would need the author or publisher’s okay or not. Book trailers are not for everyone, but that doesn’t make them good or bad. If I were an author or publisher I would use them because it’s another way to reach potential readers.

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  19. Jessica

    The only one I’ve seen was for “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which I saw after reading the book. If I’d seen it first, I guarantee I would have blown the book off. I hope it didn’t have that effect on anyone else. The trailer just didn’t match the tone of the book, and I don’t think it did it justice.

    Several years ago MTV had a “Feed Your Head” campaign and made short films of a few classic books. I saw the one for Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” and it was really cool. If I hadn’t already read it, it would have made me want to. Somehow I doubt, though, that book publishers will ever have that kind of production value in their presentations.

    Frankly I think they should just stick to narration with no visuals if they are going to continue this trend.

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  20. avisannschild

    Another sometimes for me as well! I think I’ve watched about four book trailers, including two for The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. No idea if I’ll like his book (I won it last year but haven’t read it yet), but I did love his trailers (and would not have put the book on my wish list had it not been for them). But I get what you mean when you say the mixed-medianess of book trailers is a bit strange.

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  21. bethany (B&b ex libris)

    I do like them, some are good, others aren’t but the ones were the author talks about the book are great….It makes the book more personal to me to see the author and then read his/her book. The book trailers that are the ones with the pictures floating around of a mother and daughter or such, they are not very interesting to me. I do like to post a clip of some sort on my reviews if I can find it and author lectures are fun or an author reading.

    I don’t think there is one kind of book trailer- they are NOT all created equal. 🙂

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  22. SuziQoregon

    there are book trailers???

    😉

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  23. Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading

    Nope, I don’t watch them. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a video of any kind that’s been posted on a blog post…

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  24. Jessica

    I don’t watch them. I don’t know why, I never really thought about it. Hmmmm…

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  25. Valerie

    Never heard of book trailers until now! And I doubt I’ll start watching them anytime soon–partly because of my hearing loss but also partly because it seems like yet another thing to eat up time :-). That said, if they help some people to read more, then that’s great!

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  26. Jeane

    I only come across book trailers when other bloggers imbed them in their posts, but I hardly ever watch them. I don’t really get what the point is- so I guess I’m not the target audience, either. I’d rather learn about a book by reading of it, and I sometimes don’t like images replacing what my own mind would come up with (if that makes sense).

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  27. Emily

    I’ve only seen a book trailer once and I sat there the whole time going “Is this really for a BOOK?” I don’t understand having a theatric promo for something that’s suppose to be read. I’d much rather see the cover, read some reviews, maybe the back of the book blurb, and a few first pages because that gives me a much better feeling for the book than seeing a trailer.

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  28. Holley

    I don’t seek them out, but I do watch them when I come across them. I really liked the one for Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader!

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  29. Lorin

    I’ve watched one maybe once, I think. I just have no interest in watching someone else’s image of what the book looks like. I don’t want to sully my imagination.

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  30. softdrink

    I voted no, although that’s a bit of a lie. I have watched a few. But I certainly don’t seek them out. If someone embeds them in a post, I almost always skip over them.

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  31. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    What Natasha said. When I posed this question on the Friendly Book Nook a year ago, someone commented that it’s all about the younger readers. I can totally see that and have stopped being so snobbish.

    For myself, I watch them sometimes and if they are well done I enjoy them.

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  32. mari

    Nope. Don’t see the point of them really. The ones I have seen on some blogs are a bit cheesy and not well made so I am not very interested in them.

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  33. mee

    I thought I was the only one who doesn’t watch book trailer… I watched a couple of them and found them uninteresting and definitely didn’t make me want to read the books. It could work for other people.. dunno.

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  34. Kelly

    Another no here, but I’m old so I guess that fits. Kids these days…

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  35. S, Krishna

    Book trailers are something I feel like I should watch but I don’t. If I’m not convinced by the summary on the dust jacket/back cover, the trailer isn’t going to convince me.

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  36. Meg Waite Clayton

    I don’t know if they do any good, but I do look at them, and my team at Random House used mine for the hardcover promotion of The Wednesday Sisters, and is planning to use it again for the paperback. Love to hear what you all think about it. The new improved version for the paperback is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hfoIH6bdbk

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    trish Reply:

    I actually really like yours, Meg. But I could be biased!

    Seriously, though, I think whoever produced your trailer did a good job of putting real video in with still pictures, and using actual parts of the book (like the one character who word the white gloves…can’t remember her name).

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  37. Kiki

    No, I don’t watch book trailers–you read a book, not watch it, like a movie!

    However, now that I know there is a book trailer for The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), a book I just finished yesterday, I may seek it out just out of curiosity! Thanks, Jessica.

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    trish Reply:

    Kiki, let me know if you do watch the trailer for The Art of Racing in the Rain. I loved the book and don’t think the trailer did the book justice.

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  38. Staci

    I might watch one or two but I still have dial-up so watching them is out-of-the question!!

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  39. Beth F

    I voted no, but actually it should be sometimes. I never seek them out. But if someone embeds a trailer in a post and I have the time, I click and watch. I don’t really get the point either, but some are fun to watch. I can’t say a trailer has ever swayed my buying decisions.

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  40. Jena

    I can’t say that I’ve ever bought a book because of its trailer, but there are book trailers I love. This is one: http://www.vidlit.com/yidlit/

    And I do plan to buy that book. Someday.

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    trish Reply:

    Jena, that’s a freaking awesome trailer!!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  41. Teddy

    The few book trailors that I saw didn’t make me want to run out and buy the books. In fact, If it wasn’t for the written descriptions, I would have passed the books up totally.

    No, I don’t make a point of watching book trailers!

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  42. lisamm

    Well I don’t really seek them out but if someone posts it on a blog, sometimes I’ll watch. I really like the one for The Laws of Harmony, posted on TLC- it made me want to read the book:

    http://tlcbooktours.com/2009/03/judi-hendricks-author-of-the-laws-of-harmony-on-tour-may-2009/

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  43. Nicole

    I don’t really watch book trailers. I think I have watched exactly two and no more since then. The idea of them confuses me.

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  44. Sheila Clover English

    Great post! And great comments!
    As the owner of the top book trailer producer in the US I have to say that the comments on this blog are exactly what I look for in order to help me have a better understanding of who is watching and why.
    I found it very interesting that several people watch a trailer after they read the book.

    Trish, you’re right about you not being the main target audience for a book trailer. Traditional readers, of which I count myself, usually use book reviews, friend suggestions and back cover copy. Trailers are more for young readers and occasional readers. Young readers watch them a lot. We do analytics for our trailers and we know we have very large number of young viewers from 15 years old to 25 years old. Those people are more likely to comment or email us too.

    Occasional readers are those people who like to read, but have to have a reason for it. Either they liked the movie so they buy the book, or everyone else is reading it, their friends insist or it is a theme they are already intersted in. These people tend to go for a quick, visual medium so trailers are a great venue for them.

    I always say, “Preaching to the choir doesn’t build a bigger choir.” The hope is that by promoting reading through a visual medium will work as an outreach to those occasional readers. That it will remind them of how magical storytelling is. How wonderful and fun books can be. In order to build a bigger readership overall, we need to find ways to appeal to those occasional readers and turn them into traditional readers who will be just as likely to buy a book for entertainment as they are to rent a movie.

    Book Trailers are not for everyone. But then again, neither are banner ads. They are a good outreach and get better ROI, in my opinion, than expensive print ads. USA Today national ads are $15,000. That is for one ad. That runs on one day. It may reach 100,000 eyes. For $300 you can get that same number of eyes and have your video playing on the Barnes and Noble website to boot! Economically speaking, it is a good investment.

    Thanks again for this post! I learned a lot from these comments and will visit again!
    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Sheila! What an awesome comment! Thank you for educating us on book trailers! I completely understand now why I am not the target audience. I think using various methods to promote a book is great, but I was curious who was watching book trailers. Now I know!

    Also, I had no idea how much it costs for an ad as opposed to the cost to produce a trailer. I think if an author even spent $1,000 for a trailer, it appears they’d get a better bang for their buck. Spending $300 seems like a no brainer!

    Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment!

    [Reply]

    Sheila Clover English Reply:

    Thanks Trish! This is a great blog! I’m poking around some other posts now.
    My guess is that the majority of your blog readers are traditional readers as well.
    Here’s a couple of examples of book video that worked out very well. This one is a YA book called Evermore. It is a simple and straight forward video. But, the important thing to see is the number of comments. Plus, this author’s French publisher saw it and ask us to remove the text so they can put in French text. And the book itself continues to do well on the USA Today bestseller list. The author is a repeat customer who has given us a great testimonial!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrZ7IsA79ck

    Or this one that is a book trailer and a music video, made specifically to bring in new, 20-something readers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECqNxdDWliY

    The question is; is the book trailer successful because you liked it, or because it met the author’s pre-determined goal?
    Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  45. nfmgirl

    Nope, I’ve never watched one. They just don’t appeal to me. I guess maybe because it doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, it’s for a book, which I’m going to READ. So I want to READ about the book. But maybe that’s just me (although it doesn’t look like it, as I see almost 60% so far say they don’t watch trailers).

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  46. Nikola

    I don’t watch book trailers habitually, but if I like a book, I will often google it and just learn about it, and if I happen to stumble upon the trailer, I’ll probably watch it. But I am always scared of spoilers!

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  47. Vicki Hopkins

    I made my own book trailer for marketing purposes using the slideshow feather in Photoshop and adding music. It’s posted on my website, blog, YouTube, and Tangle. Sure it’s not the most professional, but it does get watched and it does drive traffic. I think it’s another marketing tool that writers are using, and I know of a few authors myself that have posted videos. As far as targeted audience, it works well for me. A lot of young readers want to understand the symbolism behind the Phantom of the Opera story, as well as fans. If it serves its purpose in increasing sales, then I’m all for them.

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  48. Cindy

    I voted yes on the book trailers although I have to admit that I don’t go looking for them unless someone points it out or its on someone’s blog.

    Sometimes the trailer will influence my to buy/borrow the book. Although not all the time.

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  49. Noel

    Most book trailers are just so… well… badly done (imho). Flying text and still photos. There are some good ones out there though that do make people want to read the book who might otherwise not. I think the new book by author Latayne C. Scott is a great book trailer for example. http://bit.ly/jdvlW

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I have to agree with you, Noel. And that book trailer you linked to is awesome! I’ve never been inspired to read a book from a trailer, but I am now! 🙂

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  50. Items of Interest: Links That Caught My Attention This Week & A Giveaway | Linus's Blanket

    […] over at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? wants to know if you watch book trailers? I know I don’t.  The only time I ever think of them or see them is when someone else posts […]

  51. Kim L

    Up until recently I had no idea what these suckers were. I still haven’t taken the time to watch any. I really don’t do much research on a book aside from taking the recommendation of other bloggers until after I’ve read the book. By then, a book trailer would do little aside from waste my time. I sometimes will google an author that I find interesting, but I in general don’t go to their websites or anything like that. Meh.

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  52. zibilee

    I have watched a few, but I have to honestly say that watching a book trailer has never made me want to read the book. I think you bring up some great points regarding the mixing of media, and I think that you are spot on. I can’t imagine a trailer ever doing justice to a book, and the idea that you have to create scenes in which to highlight specific portions of the book seems really silly to me.

    [Reply]

  53. rose - an avid book trailer enthusiast

    I think of book trailers as a great tool for authors to use to get readers interested in reading their book. As a reader and aspiring author, I LOVE this concept! I’ve been following book trailers from the first one COS Productions came out with (Dark Symphony by Christine Feehan) and I can say that I’m hooked. I love that they create visual images of a book, similar to what I’m sure many of you do when you read the blurb on the back of a book. Now, granted, you may not be interested in a visual representation of a book blurb, but for me, it works.

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  54. Lisa

    I have to say that I too am an avid book trailer watcher. I’ve been introduced to more than one author by watching a book trailer and have bought books based on what I saw. My 15 year old nephew watched one that he thought was for a movie, he was so interested by it he bought the book.

    A trailer isn’t the only thing that makes me buy the book, but if done well it will make me search out the book to read the blurb or a review online.

    I think it’s a great marketing tool if done correctly and really does capture the attention of the MTV/youtube/video game generation

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  55. Maida

    I’m a big fan of book trailers as well. I’m a regular reader before I saw book trailers. I’m not a mystery/thriller fan though but after seeing one of the book trailers I was intrigue to find out what happened to the story so I bought the book!! I think its a great venue for any author to reach out to non readers or non regular readers. I do think its going, if not already, to be popular with YA. They are more visual and the industry really needs to come up with something to attract new generation…and I believe book trailers will help in that.

    [Reply]

  56. Review and Giveaway - The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff | Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

    […] a book trailer for The 19th Wife that is FANTASTIC. You know I don’t give my stamp of approval on book trailers easily, so please, watch this […]

  57. Wendy Tokunaga

    I just stumbled upon this thread while researching where to promote book trailers . I don’t know if they do any good for book sales and didn’t realize that so many readers may actually be turned off by them, but I had a blast making mine for my novel MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT. You can watch it at my Web site: http://www.WendyTokunaga.com
    People who have read the book say that the trailer really captures the essence of it.

    [Reply]

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