Reading (Might Be) Cool Again

On the heels of the post, Ebooks are a Disaster, here’s something a little more positive.  The annoyance with the number of formats aside, I find this commercial for the Kindle fairly amazing.  Looking past the saccharine sweetness of the commercial it’s a very interesting development:

What you have there is not just a commercial for the Kindle, but for books itself – for the act of reading. And that’s not something you usually find on mainstream TV.  It doesn’t appear that commercials for actual books are going to take off any time soon – certainly not on mainstream networks, and frankly, there’s something fairly awkward about most trailers for novels.  Showing scenes from a book just doesn’t sit right – it seems forced and false.  And there’s usually something missing from a book trailer: the writer.  A music video, on the other hand, sells the actual artist: the band.  Book trailers by and large don’t do that.

Here’s the top of the line. An example of a Stephen King book trailer:

It may just be me, but having a book trailer that is basically the same as a movie trailer doesn’t feel right.  The point of a book is the reader uses his/her imagination to fill in the blanks.  It’s a totally different process from watching a movie.  Could writers be marketed alongside their books?  It might be hard, but the most enduring writers (including King) are those with larger-than-life personalities: Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Anne Rice, etc.  Dan Brown is currently the most recognizable writer.  What draws people to a movie often are the actors, so it would make some sense for writers to represent their books within trailers.  Branding writers in this way might be one way to increase people’s interest in reading.  Of course, I’m not exactly sure how it would work – writers reading an excerpt?  Maybe there’s something inherently unworkable about a book trailer, though I do like this one from a self-published author.

I’m actually more open to Vooks – interspersing a book with other media. Yes, even fiction – but especially makes sense for non-fiction. It opens up creative possibilities. This is intriguing:

Within a novel, you could have more-abstract visual imagery attached to the work of fiction – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a case of actors acting out the book (though that’s also a possibility).  Basically there’s more potential for creativity with a vook than there is for a 30-second book trailer.  It’s like a book meets video-art installation.  It could certainly open up interest to books to new readers – without necessarily diminishing the book’s intent.  Having a short video represent the entirety of a novel is another matter.

Even if book trailers improved dramatically, they’ll still probably be relegated to the web – at least for the immediate future.  But – right now – on TV, there’s the Kindle commercial that promotes actual reading, and that’s a pretty fantastic development.  It’s something you wouldn’t be able to get without the progression of ebooks.  The fact that books have merged with technology gives marketers an avenue for promoting reading itself, not just a particular book.  And that’s why this is an exciting time, even if formatting for ebooks can make you pull your hair out.

Then again, the Kindle might just become this:

  • That last one is hilarious.

  • Update: I actually saw that Stephen King book trailer on regular TV, so it does happen, but obviously not for most trailers.