Book Trailers: Who Watches Them?

Elizabeth Bluemle - November 4, 2010

On Facebook the other day, I happened to catch sight of Margie Palatini’s new book trailer for Lousy Stinkin’ Rotten Grapes, her fun new collaboration with Barry Moser. The trailer was terrific: funny, brief, well-edited, visually appealing — and it definitely makes a viewer want to see the book.
Lousy Stinkin’ Rotten Grapes book trailer
Watching it made me realize how rarely I see (or seem to seek out) book trailers, although there are so many terrific, effective ones out there. I really only watch them if an author or illustrator friend (or a publicist, or a blogger) alerts me to it via Facebook or email or blog post.
And that realization made me curious about who, exactly, IS watching — and using — book trailers, and where, how, and why. I know that YA book trailers seem popular with avid teen readers, many of whom create trailers themselves in homage to favorite books (or, sometimes, as send-ups of some of the more popular books). But how much of a viewership is there beyond teens, authors, and the social networking friends of authors?
So we’re asking you:
Do you booksellers and librarians who embed trailers on your sites find that they get many hits/views?
Do your customers/patrons ever mention book trailers to you?
Do you publishing folks find that book trailers lead to sales (or at least increased hits, or interest in the books) on your websites? Is this even trackable?
How important do you feel book trailers are for authors? And what do you consider to be their goal and best use?
Finally, where do you discover new book trailers, and what makes you want to watch them?
I’m so curious about this subject and would love to hear from you all.

21 thoughts on “Book Trailers: Who Watches Them?

  1. S.S.

    I’m an author, and I will sometimes watch book trailers (especially on authors’ websites). However, much of the time I feel like they’re kind of corny and don’t do the books justice. I think if a trailer is well-made it pulls a person in and generates interest (like a movie trailer). But it can also have the opposite effect if it’s not well made. I’ve actually been interested in books only to watch the trailers, think they were corny, then decided not to buy the book.

  2. Matthew Lundy

    Our middle school library’s weekly “Library Picker” videos highlight great books on our shelves that students might not be familiar with… And in those videos, we often use a couple of official publisher-created book trailers to generate interest. Students watch the episodes in English class on Fridays and often rush the library looking for the books we feature (or ones like them). They do ask about the book trailers and we send them to our YouTube “book trailers” playlist if they want to see more.
    I’ve seen book trailers be extremely effective when done in a way that our kids respond to. For us, that means thoughtful music selection, minimal real human faces in the frame, and a narrator that hints at the plot of the book.
    That being said, book trailers have also turned our kids off in much the same way that covers sometimes do. But trailers have the advantage of being more flexible than book covers. Very much like TV commercials that paint products in different ways, book trailers can reach a more diverse set of readers by presenting the book in different lights.

  3. Jana

    I LOVE them. And like others before me we use them a lot in our library. They haven’t taken the place of booktalks but they have certainly support them. Also, many of our teachers are using them as ideas for digital book reports!

  4. suzanne

    I look for book trailers on youtube, I have even asked publisher sales reps when sending the weekly email about who’s out advertising their book to add the url of the book trailer if any. Us book sellers can use the trailer many places, ie twitter, FB, Newletters, store web site. Yes, when found I do use them and have received comments. Book sales back to me, unknown yet.

  5. Bertrice Small

    I think book trailers are the best bang for the buck advertising-wise.
    But you have to keep them short as the attention spans out there
    seem to be short. A minute is just about right. Bertrice Small

    1. Josephine Nobisso

      Hi, Sunny! This gives me the opportunity to tell you that I watched all your trailers last week, and I love them–short, juicy teasers–just right from a (best-selling, btw, folks!) romance novelist. Maria and I couldn’t make it to your Southold event. Hope all’s sweet. Love, Joi

  6. SU

    I can’t say I’ve ever watched one all the way through. I’d rather read, but then maybe I’m just old-fashioned. With all the publicity in publications, email, websites, blogs, etc., no time for watching “trailers” for books. I suppose if I were a captived audience, as in a movie theater, a book trailer might be a welcome relief, but otherwise they don’t interest me.

  7. Carol B. Chittenden

    I’d rather use those 90 seconds to read your blog. I watched one trailer in connection with a high profile author who was coming to town, and it was so hokey I figured there’s no point. But then I don’t watch TV either, so I may not be a representative sample, just a cranky bookseller.

  8. Audrey

    Thanks for this post and for the responses. I look forward to reading more.
    I commissioned a book trailer for my most recent nonfiction picture book. It felt like a gamble, but it’s a book that could be of interest to people beyond the typical children’s book-buying community, and it seemed like the viable route for engaging that readership (baseball enthusiats).
    I hope it brings the book to the attention of potential readers. It will be difficult to assess its effectiveness–who knows why some books sell and some don’t?

  9. Dianne White

    I’ve thought about this question a lot, too. Do potential readers become actual *buyers* of books because of a trailer? Certainly, a well-done trailer has made me seek out a book in much the same way as a well-written review or an intriguing first page can leave me feeling like I simply *must* read the book.
    Recently, Analine Johnson, a public school librarian at La Lucha Libro Library in Laredo, Texas, wrote a piece on book trailers as educational tools at
    Not all book trailers are created equal, but certainly, a well-made trailer can pique a reader’s interest in exactly the same way a movie preview does.

  10. Alan Gratz

    I asked a room full of librarians at the NCSLMA conference in Winston-Salem today if book trailers matter, and was STUNNED to have the entire room yell, “Yes! WE love book trailers!” I was told that they end up doing book talks to parents, teachers, and students, and that often these book talks are done by Powerpoint–and that they can, and often DO, embed book trailers in these. Some like dramatic performances from the book; others like authors sitting and talking directly about what they wrote and why. One warning they delivered to authors: many schools block YouTube, so it’s best if the video is cross-posted on the author’s blog, or on a site like SchoolTube.
    Definitely made me reconsider putting together a book trailer for my new one next year…

  11. Brian Kavanagh

    As an author I use book trailers and, what I term as, ‘Video extracts’. I don’t just stay with one trailer for a book but keep updating and changing. I get good feed back on them and can only assume that they aid in sales. But anything that gets the books out there for the public to know about, is fine by me.

  12. Pingback: Book Trailers: Do You Use Them? | Boxcars, Books, & a Blog

  13. Donna at Bites

    I think it all depends on who you’re marketing to. In the YA realm, teens seem to be really eating up all of those book trailers, especially when authors like Andrea Cremer and Simone Elkeles go to such expense to make theirs. But personally, not being a YA although I am a YA book bloggers, I honestly couldn’t care less about them. Why watch a movie trailer for a book? I’d rather read the blurb. That way I’m not judging based on preconceived notions or pretty faces or images already made for me. Books are books and I like my books as books. Not video shorts. But that’s not the case if you’re a teen, I guess.

  14. Dianne de Las Casas

    Elizabeth & friends:
    I found that it was difficult to find kidlit book trailers on YouTube and the web so I created a free site for children’s book authors to upload their trailers. I make no money from the site – in fact I actually subsidize the site. Librarians & teachers often frequent and join the site. Please visit!

  15. Erin Broderick

    I actually just used a book trailer in a class the other day! We watched the trailer, made predictions about the characters and events in the book, then read the book and talked about our predictions. The kids loved it! (It was for the picture book Hip & Hop Don’t Stop). As an elementary school librarian, I am always looking for ways to engage the kids, and this certainly worked!

  16. Sheila English

    As someone who has produced more book trailers than probably anyone else in the US I have seen an increasing trend in libraries using book trailers. I just read this article about grants being given to libraries for book trailers-
    My company has a program where we do all the tech work for any library or bookseller who would like to put trailers on their site, but lack the time or resources to do it. It’s exciting to see so many people utilizing them in order to build excitement and enthusiasm for books and reading!
    With Google TV Network going into full swing come Spring of next year I think we’ll find even more expectation for book trailers in terms of volume and utilization.
    Schools are using them instead of having kids do book reports. It’s a great way for kids to be involved with the book they’re reading.
    Established readers are going to use reviews, blurbs and friend recommendations, but occasional readers will use YouTube and other online means in addition to that and new readers. developing readers most certainly go to YouTube where they learn about books and create communities for themselves to discuss books.

  17. Linda

    Lots of people watch them! As the Marketing and Publicity Coordinator for a public library, I have used booktrailers for nearly three years. We use them on our website, blog and in-house as part of our events program on a looping video.
    The teens absolutely love them! They have inspired many kids to read a book they normally wouldn’t have looked at.
    Booktrailers have opened up new genres to many readers who would never have read them before. Many readers have discoved new authors because of the booktrailers running across our website.
    When we have authors visit for programs, I try to use their booktrailer if they have one, as an added marketing tool.
    As a librarian I can say – there are a lot of people watching!!


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