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August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

Slate tackles the book trailer

Our own indispensable @SaheliDatta points to Slate’s takedown of the proliferating book-trailer genre. The column is skeptical of book trailers, but I tend to find them charming. I remember loving the idea when I first ran across it, and now we’ve got several exemplars of the form, like the Little Prince Pop-Up Book trailer:

I like the way book trailers attempt to light up your expectation for a printed page by teasing you with an entirely different sort of temptation. A good book trailer is like good food photography. I don’t think of the primary seduction of a meal as being visual, but a well-done food photo evokes everything non-visual about a meal – taste, scent, texture. Similarly, I don’t typically think of the primary seduction of a book as being its atmosphere or aesthetic, but this is what a good book trailer (or animated book cover) evokes – the environment the book will create around you as you read it.

Obligatory Miranda July link. Obligatory Miranda July book trailer:

November 19, 2009 / Uncategorized


La Petite Prince! I love the snake. I was at a community screening of Between The Folds, about really astonishing origami, and was reminded that an acquaintance and local origami star is making an origami pop-up book, so I’ve been thinking about how great they are.

I don’t typically think of the primary seduction of a book as being its atmos phere or aesthetic

I haven’t really experienced enough of these to have formed a strong opinion yet. I like Robins precisely b/c it’s really vague and mostly atmospheric, and there aren’t enough hints for me to start hanging imagined plots on. That is almost always a disappointment with movie trailers: if I envision much of a plot and it turns out to be incorrect, I almost invariably (&unreasonably) feel my inchoate plot is better and partially sulk through the movie. One semi-exception where I still think my plot was more interesting but the movie won me over with atmospherics: The Prestige.

Matt, you have some crazy kerning magic going with that line I quoted.

Matthew Battles says…

Well, this really has me going. I’ve spent the evening looking for better examples—thinking, there must be better examples. Because the Little Prince gets close, but not near enough—it’s too much just a book on a table being grappled. And the pop-up book seems especially likely to make a worthwhile springboard; in fact, I’m thinking that if I ever do a book trailer I’d want to use pop-up as a conceit in the piece, even if my book wasn’t a pop-up. Only in almost every extant case, pop-up books are being yanked and twisted. Which is like shooting a film with mic booms and lights and cables snaking everywhere in the frame. With a pop-up, the hands should be like—well, stagehands. Dress ’em in black.

Troy Patterson is right—these trailers stink! But it’s execution that’s at fault. Patterson says, “rarely does a sentence with a semicolon in it belong in a video clip.” I disagree! But I want my semicolons writhing, contorting, semicoloning. I want trailers that neither efface the book nor kowtow to it. They shouldn’t be about the book, but about the *reading.* I’d love to see a book trailer done by Jan Svankmajer. Or one that uses the approach to books found in the photography of Abelardo Morell.

So here’s something well on the way to being spot-on.

That was pretty awesome.

I’d like to know about the ORIGINAL book trailers, the sources of our most widely shared & deeply held fantasies of reading? Particularly for our relatively illiterate century, where do they come from?

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