[wptabs] [wptabtitle]Overview[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent] film stripIN A WORLD… where publishers vie for consumer dollars, books now have flashy, effects-heavy animated or filmed preview “trailers,” just like movies. But are they a truly helpful service for time-crunched readers, or just a gimmicky way to bombard weary audiences with more advertising?

What they are: Book trailers can be slideshows of photos or images, an animated video, or a full-on filmed trailer with live actors. Often, there’s accompanying music or a narrator who introduces the story — and, of course, mentions the publisher, release date, and where you can buy the book. They are created by authors, publishers, students, and fans.

What they’re not: Audio readings of the actual text, or author interviews. Generally speaking, book trailers summarize the story and plot, but don’t usually include actual excerpts from the text (although you can often find such bonus features on an author’s website or their Amazon page).

Book trailers actually debuted in 2003. The term itself is copyrighted to Circle of Seven Productions, which publicly showed the first book trailer at a book convention in Louisiana. They’d been making trailers since 2002, but the term — and trend — really caught fire in 2005, when user-generated video uploads really took off on platforms like YouTube.

Click to the next tab to see our hand-picked book trailers and reviews.

There are even book trailer awards! In 2007, the School Library Journal created the Trailee Awards for the best book trailers. Three categories are awarded: author/publisher-created, student-created, and librarian/adult-created. The 2012 awards were presented in Dallas, TX, at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting.

“Book trailers raise awareness about the big power of little books to reach readers,” said Katie Davis, the 2012 Trailee winner in the author-produced category for a trailer she created for her book Little Chicken’s Big Day. Critics, however, say they’re gimmicky and a dumbed-down approach for selling books, not to mention the distinct reek of desperation wafting from struggling print publishers.

I was initially dubious, but I’ve come to appreciate that book trailers, when appropriately used, can be a good thing. For a strongly visually-oriented book, a video is worth a thousand-word review. A clever trailer idea can add an extra layer of meaning, cultural allusion, or personal connection with the book’s protagonist by directly addressing the potential reader. And when bestselling books become hit movies, book trailers could be a valuable way to introduce loyal fans to similar stories they’re likely to love.

Do you seek out book trailers for your favorite authors and highly-anticipated titles? Would you be taken aback if you went to the movie theater and they showed a book trailer? Or would it be a valuable way to learn about upcoming books similar to the movies you enjoy?

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Stephanie Perry
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