A Toastastic Book Trailer

Alison Morris - November 17, 2008

I find the whole "book trailer" trend pretty interesting. Using a visual media to sell someone on the idea that they’d like to read a (typically) not-so-visual book strikes me as a bit odd, and potentially misleading. If a book trailer is done too well, you want to "see the rest of it" — in other words, you start wishing you could watch the non-existent "movie" of which you’ve just been given a clip. If a book trailer is done too poorly you don’t want to read the book at all. One of my favorite novels of the year, for example, is one I might never have read if I’d actually believed it was half as clichéd and cheesy as the trailer that was created for it. (Ugh.)

But every now and again I see a book trailer or ad that impresses me. And today that ad was this one, which was created a year ago for The Book of Spam, written and packaged by Dan Armstrong and Dustin Black (Atria Books, 2007). This ad is an example of what these two call "Toastvertising."

Spam still lacks allure for me, but the cleverness of this ad makes me wonder about the cleverness of this book overall. My thinking is that anyone who could conceive and create an ad this clever ought to be able to create a pretty darn entertaining book, even on a topic as strange as processed meat. And if in the end that thought gets me to pick up the book, then the trailer has served its purpose, no? 

If you enjoyed the book trailer above, you might also enjoy watching this video, which shows how it was made.

I recommend more authors and publishers consider using breakfast food in their trailers. It’s just so much more entertaining than bad actors.

11 thoughts on “A Toastastic Book Trailer

  1. Elizabeth Dingmann

    This is really creative! It reminds me a lot of the work of Phil Hansen, of philinthecircle.com. He often makes art out of unconventional materials (sometimes food) or unconventional methods (such as painting a portrait of Bruce Lee entirely by dipping his hand in paint and hitting the canvas, karate-chop style). He posts a lot of videos on his own site and also on YouTube–and on YouTube you can find some commercials he was commissioned to put together.

  2. L Martin Johnson Pratt

    I am so sick and tired of the concept of BOOK “Trailers” why would a book need a TRAILER vs Years and Years of advertising dicates a commercial. What’s the difference? A Trailer as you mention consists of bad actors, bad acting, bad graphics and the bad habit of giving away too much info. A Commercial usually is only 30 seconds long and it is enticing, alluring and just long enough to make you curious not turnoff from ever buying a book. I believe that its high time the publishing world close the chapter on this fad and get back to advertising 101 COMMERCIALS.

  3. Alan Silberberg

    In response to L Martin’s post – as an author it is often a difficult road to navigate when it comes to promotion/ marketing of a labor of love that sadly doesn’t get mega-attention of the book-buying world. My own experience has been to do whatever “clever” things I can to get my book noticed. I went the route of making my own book trailer for POND SCUM – and because of that have received lots of extra attention – and “links” to other readers’ sites. I can’t say whether my efforts yield book sales – but in some ways it’s the acklowedgement of a job well done that will ultimately keep the book fresh in other’s minds. I’m all for BOOK TRAILERS! alan http://www.silberbooks.com

  4. abby

    I’m not into book trailers either. They almost always look cheesy. When I pick up a book, I’m expecting to read it – I kind of like the disconnect from a screen. I guess if I saw more examples of how it could be done well, I might be interested, but so many aren’t. The example that comes to my mind is Graceling. I made the mistake of seeing the trailer first, and I almost didn’t read the book – which would have been tragic. The book is cool. I thought the trailer was silly.

  5. Carol Chittenden

    Maybe the sun has passed its zenith on we’ve-got-the-technology-so-we’ve-gotta-use-it, or WGTTSWGUI for short. (Maybe there’s a better word?) I’m all in favor of somebody else trying things out, but if content is king, quality is queen. Whether video trailers, inventory systems, online catalogues, I’ll taste it — but I won’t eat it unless it’s really, really good.

  6. Pam Schwagerl

    I was surprised to see Alison Morris use the term Book Trailer without the Trademark symbol next to it. Did you know that “Book Trailer” is Trademarked? Did you get permission from Circle of Seven to use their trademarked term? Most publishers have the sense to call them book video’s or book clips as they’ve done the research and know that they can’t call them book trailers without permission. Do I have permission to use the term? Yes. And I have found that book trailers are invaluable to our marketing plans for all of our titles. We have even shown them in 8-plex and 10-plex Movie theaters across the nation to promote a new release thanks to Circle of Seven working with us and making that service available to us. Pam Schwagerl president/owner Tsaba House Publishing http://www.TsabaHouse.com

  7. Brenda Ferber

    I find this discussion very interesting, especially since I decided to create some book trailers for my new book coming out this spring. I didn’t want to use actors or anything cheesy, so instead I went up to the camp where the book is set, and I interviewed real campers about my fictional character. I’m really unsure about the impact the videos will have. I’ve only posted one to youtube so far since the pub date is so far off. But I have shown both the videos to hundreds of kids on my school visits, and they have loved them. For that alone, I feel they were worth it. Plus, they were so much fun to create! I don’t like self-promoting on someone else’s blog, but if anyone is curious, you can search for Jemma Hartman Camper Extraordinaire on youtube. I would love to hear more about what people think makes a good vs. bad book trailer.

  8. Anon.

    Eh? Can you really trademark the term “Book Trailer”? What if someone’s just referring to a trailer for a book as a “book trailer,” and not as an official Circle of Seven “Book Trailer”? Is that trademark infringement? Nothing against COS but that’s ridiculous, if so.

  9. Ms1964

    I will continue to use the term “book trailer” without reference to circle of seven as this term is generic and descriptive and I will gladly pay the cost of legal defense should Circle of Seven choose to pursue litigatin.

  10. Anne

    I’ve only recently started to see book trailers cropping up and I’m really interested in their history. Does anyone know when they were first used or have any good resources? Thanks!


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