Book trailers: closer to movies than the printed word

Seed by Ania AhlbornBook trailers are everywhere these days. I tend to think they’re a highly commercial attempt at gaining readers, with low-budget production value and a cheap ploy that says, “Hey, look at me! I’m a new book! I’m cool! I’m trendy!”

Like ’em or not, book trailers are a great tactic for marketing books on the web. Seed, a horror novel by Ania Ahlborn ($2.99 right now on Amazon), and its trailer by Vikas Wadhwa won Amazon Studios’ book trailer contest, which means it’s now optioned for a big screen adaptation. Considering that Seed started as a self-published book and grew in popularity due to word of mouth, that’s a strong indication of the comparable power of other independent efforts, like book trailers. They’re worth it — if done well.

But what takes place in these short YouTube videos is closer to movies than print fiction, so it’s no coincidence that Amazon Studios thought a good book trailer might make a good film, too. The preliminary visualization work is already done for them; it’s easy to imagine Seeds as a movie now. But using actors and dramatic scenes to advertise your book only goes so far in conveying its themes, tone, and messages. In other words, it’s all plot and no proof of the quality of writing.

Not that Seeds, with its 4-star average based on 309 reviews, isn’t a good book.

Do you think, with all the hype and flashiness of media and technology today, that we’re losing too much of what makes the printed word special? Or are these merely tools that serve a larger purpose: to get more people reading and loving books?