Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Coming to a bookstore near you

When I go to a movie, I love watching the previews of coming attractions. I knew that some authors had started using trailers to promote their books, but until now, I hadn't paid much attention to them.

When done well, I think a trailer can give you a really good idea of the world the author has created. This week, I found one for Adam Langer's new novel, Ellington Boulevard, about New York City's real estate boom and how it affects one small apartment. I'm a big fan of Langer's debut novel, Crossing California, and I've written before how much I'm looking forward to Ellington Boulevard, which comes out out on Tuesday. The trailer made me even more eager.

Langer, who narrates the 3-minute trailer, has a nice chatty style, as he describes the characters in the novel and shows us around the neighborhood on the upper Upper West Side of Manhattan where the action takes place.

In 2006, the British newspaper The Guardian interviewed Steve Osgoode, director of online marketing for HarpeCollins Canada, about the growth of book trailers. They "work better for some titles than others, books that have really powerful and broad images associated with them."

The motivation "is to drive early word of mouth," Osgoode told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The idea is to "capture the spirit and feel of the book without imposing a lot of key elements — like the look and feel of characters and settings — onto the reader. I think, because of that, we’re getting that much more support from authors.”

One of HarperCollins' trailers is for Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union, a book that I have in my to-read pile. It's a mystery novel set in the late 1940s in a fictitious, Yiddish-speaking Jewish homeland in Alaska.

In this trailer, an unidentified narrator reads an excerpt in the style of a hard-boiled detective story. It certainly gets you into the mood of the novel. The accompanying graphics are nice, but unfortunately, we don't get to hear from the author. Some pictures of Chabon traipsing around Alaska while he did research for the book would have been nice.

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