Book Trailer – The New Book Cover?

In his insightful book on the development of the book cover during the twentieth century, Front Cover: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design, Alan Powers chronicles the evolution of the cover from discardable protective dust jacket to critical marketing component and charts the cultural influences that shaped its design.  The book cover has become the most important marketing device to catch a potential buyer’s eye. 

old television studioBut now a new marketing tool may supplant the venerable book cover.  It is the book trailer also known as a book wrap or a book video.  The book trailer is usually a 2-3 minute video featurig the author and visuals which illustrate the content of the book.  In just a few years, the book trailer has emerged as a “must have” in the book marketing mix.  Forces that are driving its popularity?

  • Publishers are looking for new ways to promote their titles in a crowded market
  • Publishers need new ways to engage a new, media savvy generation of readers
  • 72% of users are now connecting to the Internet with broadband
  • Book trailers offer a less expensive way to market books

video kioskCompared to some forms of book marketing, book trailers are not cheap.  Costs can range from $2,000 to $5,000+ depending on the production values the author or publisher decides to add.  But they can serve many functions.  Book trailers can be used as a means to secure print and TV media coverage; in conjunction with virtual book tours; web ads (in a shortened format); as sales videos for major retailers; as presales material to book buyers; for in store video loops; and as book club promotions. 

Book trailers are also showing up on YouTubewhere they serve a dual purpose as entertainment and advertising.   The experience of one publisher using book trailers on YouTube was highlighted a few months back in the San Francisco Chronicle by staff writer Justin Berton. 

Here are a few production houses focusing on book trailers.  (WARNING!!  Watching these videos can be addictive.)

And, of course, there are now book trailer awards (e.g. – the Book Standard’s Book Video Awards). 

Producers of book trailers will have to balance creating strong cinematic appeal with still allowing readers the freedom to conjure up their own mental imagery.  For as we all know, sometimes the movie doesn’t measure up to the book.  Like the book cover before it, the book trailer will evolve into an art form – influenced by commercial needs, reader expectations and the ambient culture – but with its own rules and artistic devices. 

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