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Are Book Trailers Effective?

I’m not much of a marketer, but here’s my amateurish opinion on whether or not book trailers are effective.

Really, a book trailer is nothing but a glorified commercial. I don’t know about you, but do you know what I do when a commercial comes on my television? I press the fast-forward button. Thank God for DVR.

Not that a movie trailer is any different. It’s all about branding and sales and visibility. A good movie trailer can make the crappiest Van Damme film seem like a sure-fire Academy Award winner.

But that’s the thing with a book trailer. What exactly do I learn from a book that I can’t learn from a pre-sale blurb? First, we’re dealing with two entirely different artistic mediums.

The book trailer feels a little like you’re telling me what to envision or imagine before I even read the book. Leave that part to my little brain, dear publishers.

I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with book trailers or that they don’t make marketing sense. But I would be curious to actually find out if and how they do make marketing sense.

Have you ever seen a movie because of a movie trailer? Absolutely, I have.

Have you ever bought a book because of a book trailer? Absolutely not.

In my effort to do a little research, I did find this book trailer below–for The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus–that I believe is well done and intrigues me.

Would I want to buy the book because of that trailer? Nope. But, hey, at least this publisher showed they can do fancy things with videos, though I do feel like the trailer is a too long and too vague. But it’s really pretty and creative!

What say you about book trailers?

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. At the point where the radio announcer started, to the end, that trailer was effective. It really did make me want to read the book, Everything before it was dull. Of course, that effective part was like reading a book jacket blurb,

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    April 17, 2014
  2. I totally see your point, but you know what bugs me more are the movie adaptations of bestsellers nowadays because you become a really big fan of this book and you fall in love with characters that you’ve created yourself with your very own perspective on each one of them. I know these movies are nice and all and they could encourage thousands of people to start reading, but still they kinda interferes with your creativity and sometimes they even affect the story itself by their Hollywood touches, don’t you think ?

    Like

    April 17, 2014
    • Yep, but that will never change. If there’s a good story, they’ll find a way to milk it in every way possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 17, 2014
  3. I’m not a fan of book trailers. I’d rather read about a book than watch about it. Trailers are for movies, blurbs are for books.

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    April 17, 2014
  4. sally1137 #

    James Patterson’s book commercials annoyed me to the point that I won’t bother reading his books. Not that I read that many of them before, but now I actively avoid them.

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    April 17, 2014
  5. If the book trailer tells more than the first three chapters, it spoils the books. The books should introduce the problem by chapter 3, chapter 4 at the latest. Otherwise the trailer is setting the reader up for big disappointments that you are not getting into the gist quick enough.

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    April 17, 2014
  6. Denise #

    I don’t want a marketing exec to preempt my own imagination. If I’m interested in a book, I won’t watch a trailer on it for fear that I’ll dull my own imagination about the scenes and characters and I’ll only get out of the book what I was told to by the advertisement. For example, I hate that the LOTR movies have replaced my original imaginings of those iconic novels both in my own mind and in pop culture. We all have the same idea now about what Galadriel is like and before I saw the movies, I knew her to be different. I feel the same way about book trailers.

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    April 17, 2014
    • Denise #

      O, Judyblablabla said essentially the same thing above. I’m with Judyblablabla!

      Liked by 1 person

      April 17, 2014
  7. Your friendly librarian #

    I usually don’t watch book trailers for the same reason stated by the OP and commenters – it’s a commercial, I can read the blurb, and I want to use my own imagination.

    However, there are just a couple book trailers that are interesting to me. Gary Shteyngart’s book trailers have almost nothing to do with his books, and actors do cameos which basically make fun of him “not being able to read.” They’re definitely weird, but it’s refreshing to see advertising that is fun and doesn’t feel like it’s really selling anything (other than the fact that he’s, well, a humorist.)

    Overall? Most trailers are straight-up commercials. It’s nice for publishers that they can advertise books outside of print, like movie theaters, but I’m not going to go out of my way to watch an ad.

    Like

    April 17, 2014
  8. I remember back in the 90s between soaps there would be “book commercials”, and they were as simple as having the book cover on-screen with a booming voice: “Danielle Steel. In bookstores everywhere!” Whether they are effective or not? I don’t own any Danielle Steel…

    “The Flame Alphabet” commercial you have attached…I have to admit I am intrigued about the book, even though I am disturbed by the ad’s animation.

    Like

    April 17, 2014
  9. Other than the one you’ve linked to, I haven’t seen any book videos. I can’t say that the one shown above makes me want to read the book for two reasons: 1) The animation has already started to create the story for me, and if the book doesn’t resemble the animation and story I’ve created in my head, there’s going to be a disconnect. 2) I don’t like the animation. It’s creepy and vague. But my 10-yr-old son’s generation may disagree.

    I do think that video book ads most likely serve to keep the book in front of an audience.

    Like

    April 17, 2014
  10. For a while, I was looking at book trailers. I found a good many really did not give me a real sense about what the story of the book enough to tell me whether I wanted to read it. I include the sample you featured. I do think the book cover has an impact on whether a book sells well. Also I have a kindle and am able to download a sample of a book. The blurb and the sample are very effective ways for me to find out whether I want to read a book. Not the trailer. So I give thumbs down to trailers.

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    April 17, 2014
  11. I’m currently in a Book Publishing program and we ask this question all the time. Is it beneficial? What type of books does this medium work for? I have found that often times book trailer can work really well for graphic novels since it is able to really showcase the art. Like this trailer for Boxers & Saints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9JLPevOw68.

    In this trailer, they let the art tell the watcher what this book is roughly about as well as draws them in to the intrigue and action of the book by animating the art work.

    And then there are book trailers that aren’t necessarily going to sell the book, though it will be nice if they convince people to do so, but act more as an extra to those who already know about the book, like the trailers done by Chronicle. This book was also more of a charity thing since a percentage of the profits go to Save the Children. http://comicgeniusbook.com/videos/

    However, I have seen some really horrible book trailers that nothing for anybody, so it’s all a matter of the type of book and what kind of attention you want to attract.

    Like

    April 17, 2014
  12. I am studying for an MSc in Publishing, so am perhaps not the most impartial commentator. However, I found your post really interesting – especially given the number of people saying that trailers do not affect your decision to buy a book. I would argue that the purpose of a book trailer is to raise awareness of the book, in the way that film trailers raise awareness of the film they advertise. They can be done prior to publication, whereas cover blurbs take a long time to create and are only really effective once the book has been published.

    Given the number of books published in any one year, it is difficult to make yours stand out unless you have enough money to fuel a massive marketing campaign. In this sense, I would argue that creating a book trailer is a different way of gaining someone’s attention and should, perhaps, be compared with trailers for video games rather than films.

    Like

    April 18, 2014
  13. A book trailer is for awareness, in my mind. An advertisement is to motivate purchase. Few do.

    Like

    April 18, 2014
  14. Stephie Lynn #

    I think that book trailers work better for some genres than others. Of course YA, but any fantasy/adventure type book makes for a more interesting trailer. I am sure that most of my favorite books would fall flat in a three minute movie spot.

    Like

    April 20, 2014
  15. Reblogged this on SS Readers Corner and commented:
    As an avid fan of romance genre, I’ve noticed that some authors do book trailers to promote their books. I wouldn’t simply grab a book to read because of a book trailer. It doesn’t leave any impact on me. Instead it gives me spoilers because it features quotes from the book. In general, I avoid book trailers.
    Do book trailers really pique interest and increase sales? What do you think?

    Like

    June 8, 2014

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