Indie Bookstores of New York City

A blog about Independent Bookstores in NYC and how they are surviving in the digital age

On the Use of Book Trailers

A couple years ago, I was introduced to the idea of a book trailer – a short video used to advertise a new book much in the same way a movie trailer advertises an upcoming film. Ideally, a book trailer will generate the appropriate awareness and hype and encourage consumers to make the purchase. I recently stumbled across an article weighing the pros and cons of making such a trailer. Author Marisol Dahl discusses the use of the book trailer as “a natural marketing tactic” in the digital age. However, she states that a book trailer might not be the correct choice for everyone.

On the one hand Dahl says that book trailers are great because they are visually engaging, easily sharable, and more likely to pay-off in the long-run, as they will “live as long as [they are] online,” and “over time, [they] can continue to introduce new potential readers to [the] work.” On the other hand, however, she says that their quality is often compared to that of movie trailers and so “a good book trailer involves a huge investment of time, money, and skill.” Dahl also makes the argument that some people are still wary of book trailers because it is akin to “seeing the movie before reading the book” and destroys the possibility for the reader to form their own conceptions of the fictional world. Finally, Dahl suggests that determining the return on investment of a book trailer is difficult, as it may not reach its target audience even if it gains a significant number of views.

Perhaps the element that struck me most about this article is the fact that the literary world is still largely skeptical of the digital age for use in promoting their largely un-digital products (e-books being the exception). That using a book trailer to promote a book somehow feels like cheating or that it destroys the experience of reading by eliminating the possibility for the reader’s own imagination feels counter-intuitive to the over-arching feeling of limitless creativity that has generally accompanied the digital age. Below is one example of a book trailer that seems to walk the line between both worlds:

In this trailer, the visual references to physical books fuse together the world of digital animation as a means of promotion and the world of print to which the trailer is connecting. Additionally, the paper animation, while visually engaging, does not detract from the reader’s ability to imagine the world of the novel because of its simplicity.

In thinking about how the use of video could connect back to independent bookstores, the idea of creating a “bookstore trailer” seemed appealing. Instead of being used to promote specific books, these short videos could be used to showcase what the bookstore is all about including capturing the atmosphere, the events, and the people who visit. Some bookstores such as the Powerhouse Arena and WORD have already made use of this technique. Thoughts?


For Marisol Dahl’s full article click here.

Quoted Material from:

Video Source:




Three Lives & Company


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