Musings on books and the book business by an opinionated, somewhat cynical, yet optimistic bookseller.
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 youtube.com 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9scQ6078TU. 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.
Top 10 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. 2000. White Teeth by Zadie Smith. 2000. Atonement by Ian McEwan. 2002. Any Human Heart by William Boyd. 2003. The Known World by Edward P. Jones. 2003. Snow by Orhan Pamuk. 2004. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. 2005. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. 2006. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. 2007. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. 2007.
Other Favorites The Inventory by Gila Lustiger. 2000. The Human Stain by Philip Roth. 2000. Erasure by Percival Everett. 2001. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. 2001. Spies by Michael Frayn. 2002. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. 2002. Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon. 2002. Roscoe by William Kennedy. 2002. American Woman by Susan Choi. 2003 The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. 2003. Sabbath Creek by Judson Mitcham. 2004. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. 2004. The In Between World of Vikram Lall by M.G. Vassanji. 2004. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. 2006. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. 2006. After This by Alice McDermott. 2006. Echo Maker by Richard Powers. 2006. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. 2007. Peace by Richard Bausch. 2008. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. 2008. Border Songs by Jim Lynch. 2009. Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. 2009. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. 2009. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. 2009. All Other Nights by Dara Horn. 2009.
My Favorite New Books
My Abandonment by Peter Rock. A girl and her father live off the land in Portland's Forest Park in this novel that is based on a true story. Told through the eyes of the young girl, it's a poetic work revealing our connection to the natural world. True Confections by Katharine Weber. Zip's Candy is the setting for this outstanding satire. Alice, who turns out to be an unreliable narrator, details the company's history and her own place in its scandalous past. New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro. The death of a boar, a pervert trying to perfect his craft, and the unearthing of the bones of a murder victim are just a few of the plot elements in this comic debut.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Shortly after World War II, a young Irish girl is forced by her family to emigrate to Brooklyn. Cut off from all that she knows she finds love at Dodgers games and Coney Island in this subtle but suspenseful novel.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Phillippe Petit's remarkable 1974 tight-rope walk between the World Trade Center towers is the jumping off point (pun intended) of this novel of love, loss and beautiful convergences in a gritty New York City.
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. Nothing is as it seems in this brilliant bizarre novel set in an almost recognizable New York City. The revelations at the end left me reeling although I knew that surprises were lurking. Another novel with shades of Saul Bellow. Border Songs by Jim Lynch. Hilarious novel about a strange border agent on the Canadian border. Lynch effortlessly tells the story from several points of view including the criminal, the cops and everyone in between.
The Signal by Ron Carlson. An adventure and a love story set in the pristine mountains of Wyoming. A sense of both hope and foreboding hangs over the sparse narrative.
Wanting by Richard Flanagan. This historical novel featuring both Charles Dickens and the explorer John Franklin is really a meditation on desire and what was thought to separate the civilized from the barbarians.
Woodsburner by John Pipkin. Henry David Thoreau burned down the Concord Woods before he wrote Walden. This novel explores that incident from several different perspectives, including a bookseller who is forced to sell porn to stay in business.
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. A British Bellow with a West Indian cricket fiend cast as a Chicago University Professor. Humboldt plays cricket. Chicagoby Alaa Al Aswany. Egyptian students and their professors try to navigate America in this magnificent novel set in the heart of contemporary Chicago.
Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont. A haunting novel about the seductive power of friendship.
Wifeshoppingby Steven Wingate. Thirteen great short stories of men sabotaging their relationships.