Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book trailers

I've stumbled upon a couple of book trailers recently for children's books that have an Atlantic Canadian connection.

The first is for the evocative and whimsical A Flock of Shoes by Sarah Tsiang, illustrated by Qin Leng, and published by Annick Press. Tsiang lived the better part of the last decade in Fredericton before moving to Ontario to study creative writing and to pursue her career as a poet and writer of children's fiction. Her fantastical tale of a young girl whose sandals fly south for the winter has been charming both me and my daughter for the last few weeks.

"She wondered if they were making little white hearts in the sand. She thought about how the warm wind liked to tickle the open spots. She hoped they were getting enough exercise."

The second trailer is for The Queen of Paradise's Garden, a Newfoundland folk tale adapted by actor-comedian Andy Jones, illustrated by Darka Erdelji, and published by Running the Goat Books and Broadsides of St Johns. I had the book in my hands on the weekend and was delighted by its image-laden Newfoundland vernacular:

" Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, not in your time, indeed not in my time, but in olden times when quart bottles held half a gallon, houses were papered with pancakes, and pigs ran about with forks stuck in their backs seeing who wanted to have a slice of ham..."

In my mind's eye, I could just imagine Andy Jones reading it aloud. Erdelji's illustrations bring to mind Marc Chagall; there's a dream-scape magic to them that never lets the tale feel too grounded in reality.

But the point of this post is not these two fine books; the point of this post is book trailers. As a librarian, I get a kick out of them here and there, but I must admit I never use them as a selection tool either in my personal or professional life--which got me to wondering just how many people do rely on them. If you are a reader, teacher or a librarian, do you use book trailers, and, if so, in what capacity? If you are an author, illustrator or publisher, do you have book trailers made for your products? How costly are they to make? How well are they received? Are they created simply to leverage social media advertising channels? Are book trailers becoming a must-do in the publishing industry?

My interest is partly sparked by my role as a special collections' librarian. Increasingly, there is so much video ephemera accumulating on the Internet. Do people see book trailers as an art in and of themselves? (Because many are.) Do they seem them as an archival record for posterity? (Think of all the added information about the tale provided by Andy Jones in The Queen of Paradise's Garden trailer.) If they are all these things, what kind of preservation measures should be put in place to ensure they survive as an artifact to accompany the book itself?

And now, I leave you with this: it's a book ... trailer.


  1. Good post on the phenom of book trailers. For kids picture books where illustration is such a crucial element to the overall effect of the book, trailers are probably enough of a related art form to be useful in promotion. I'm not so sure the same can be said of chapter books. I've encountered a couple of books where the trailers outshine the books, unfortunately.

  2. This is the first I have ever heard of book trailers, though that is no surprise to me. Before commenting, I did a little research and it seems like this genre of social media has been around almost a decade! (Whereas, I have been under my rock, apparently.) After watching a few, I had the following thoughts: 1) most of the ones I watched were high quality and created interest in me, 2) the ones that I did not like would probably have more of an impact on me eventually NOT buying or reading the book than the positive ones would, 3) I still would never buy a book based on a trailer, as none of them provided me with enough information - I would want a sample of writing and probably a written review (I don't even go to movies based solely on the trailers), and 4) WHAT A COOL JOB, making and distributing these things. I wish I had the skilz.

  3. Back at the first book. It looks enchanting. Wish I'd written it. :)

  4. Lovely! My husband is from H'fax and a bunch of my ancestors hail from NB and rural NS, so we always like to find Maritime-themed books to read to our 4-year-old daughter. Thanks.


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