Monday, August 14, 2006

Movie trailers come to the book business

I was glancing through my countless emails on Monday, wading through the endless barrage of sexual enhancers, investment tips and solicitations for books that the book store definitely does not need, when I came across an interesting missive from my St. Martin's rep. The note was short: just a simple connection to a page. Usually, I do my best to avoid clicking through on book promotions, but this one got me. What could St. Martin's possibly be doing on a hot web page like youtube?

It turns out they were advertising Edwin Black's forthcoming book, Internal Combustion, with a three-minute movie trailer. It was a dynamite piece that featured some simple but great visuals (from historic photos dating back to the early 1900s to shots of soldiers in Iraq) that played out over a somewhat threatening percussion soundtrack. You can watch the trailer at I know it doesn't compare to what Hollywood does everyday, but we are talking about the book business. Publishers usually start their visual publicity with a cardboard shelf talker and end with a poster.

I love the innovation in this piece. The depletion of oil is the story of our time. We are a society held hostage by our oil-consuming ways and one that might be driven to desperate measures to continue our lifestyles. Why not sell a book that examines this history like an exciting documentary? Why not take it off the page and bring it to all the people who love movies, surf the web for interesting videos and are addicted to their iPods? I will up the store's order from a half dozen to 25 copies based on this ad.

We are going to run it in the store's window on a flat screen television, surrounded by copies of the book and probably one of those ubiquitous publicity posters. It's a perfect fit for us. Boulder is on a true global warming kick right now. We had huge events with James Kunstler's The Long Emergency and Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers. If this book lives up to its billing, it will fill in the long, duplicitious back story that has led us to this moment. If it doesn't, well at least it was a great trailer.

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