posted by Doranna Durgin

No, seriously. Or old fogey, or behind the times, or something. But when it comes to book trailers--the next cool shiny marketing trick--I'm wholeheartedly unimpressed.

I've always been of the opinion that just because a thing can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Like when the first word processors hit the scene--suddenly we had all these fonts available to us, and we could use as many as we wanted in a single document, as many times as we wanted. And some people did! If your goal is a mishmash of visuals, that's cool. But if your goal is to convey information...not so much. We humans have a hard time picking out the actual content when the visual presentation is distracting. Eventually, folks figured that out. (Well, most of them.)

Onward to web pages. Oy! Blinking text, scrolling lines, dancing graphics, dramatic backgrounds...all so very shiny, and yet by golly it can be hard to perceive the actual content of such a web page. Don't even talk to me about white or neon text against a black background--not because it's a good idea, but because we can. Never mind that some of us can also only read such pages if we highlight the whole thing to reverse the effect. Eventually, folks figured that out. (Well, some of them.)

In other words, once new technologies allow us laypeoples to do a thing, we tend to do it whether it's effective or not, whether it's a good idea or not. We dive in, wallow around...and maybe eventually find a sweet spot of moderation.

When book trailers first started showing up, I went to see what they were about. The basic pattern got obvious fast: Slide of text, slide of image. Fancy fade of some sort from one to the other. Repeat. Generic music in the background. All trying to be as dramatic as possible, none of it moving at the natural speed at which I take in information. *yawn* Too limited to present real content, too slow to hold my interest. Not actually offering any true value over a static web page, except for the shiny.

Mind you, some book trailers rise above. Olivia Gates has a new one that I actually watched all the way through. The music is a cut above, which helps, but mostly it was the images--they seem to reveal something about the book that one doesn't get elsewhere. And that, I think, is the only way a book trailer justifies itself: If it gives us something we can't otherwise get.

But so far, I see far too little of that facet. Music adds atmosphere, not information...and the text doesn't usually add anything one can't get from reading a blurb on Amazon. Vaguely related images alternating with text and colored by generic music moving at a pace too slow to suit me..? Sorry, doesn't give me anything I want to hang around to see.

The book trailer might evolve into something, but what we're seeing out there now? For the most part it's all shine, no substance, and see you later.

Or so sayeth the Fogey...

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