What a Tease!

“Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different.” Stephen King

I’ve always loved movies. In my twenties and thirties I think I saw everything that was ever made (ok, slight exaggeration)– from the soppy 1980 film, Blue Lagoon, to the ultra-violent, 1992, The Bad Lieutenant. I loved sitting in a dark room, eyes wide open (except during the violent bits), completely captivated by sound, pictures, and other people’s lives. For two hours the screen was not a separation, but rather a portal into other stories, other lives.

I’ve since become more discerning. Or rather, I got a life, at least one that involved more than work and movies. I also realised that I was prone to nightmares and didn’t need any further grist to disrupt my already unsettled sleep.

 I’ve always read books too. Back in the day of the book mobile (now I’m really dating myself), I would come home with an armful of books. “When are you going to read all those books,” my mother would ask as soon as I walked in the door. Long after she’d double-checked I was asleep, I would turn on the light beside my bed and keep reading. I love books. If you need any evidence of that, check out my bookshelves or any vacant tabletop or end table in my house. Or take a look at my husband when he sees another visa bill come through listing several entries from our very own independent bookstore, Armchair Books.

And if you need further proof of my love, come see the festival and school programs I organize to help promote authors and good old-fashioned reading. Yikes, here I am talking about the festival again. You’d think I’d stop boring everyone with it already, but with one week to go before opening night, it’s difficult to think of anything else.

Let me try.

It isn’t easy to sell books, get people interested in what lies inside the pages. You can’t read most books in a two-hour window. Books are a long-term commitment, kind of like a good relationship. Long after the bloom of infatuation is gone, you will remember beautifully crafted lines, situations of folly and tragedy, and characters you empathized with, even as you hated the decisions they made.

Writer’s festivals (oh, those words again) are one way of selling books. Another promotional avenue, recently discovered is to use some of the techniques of the film and television industry. Namely trailers. And I don’t mean the large vehicles pulled behind a car.

Wikipedia defines a trailer as ‘a clip for an upcoming film, television program, video game or similar, usually released long in advance of the product, so as to "tease" the audience.’ Publishers have begun to use these teasers to promote their books. But it can’t be easy. How do you capture the essence of 400 or 500 pages in a short clip without the benefit of outtakes and expensive high-end equipment? You try. As with festivals and independent bookstores, you try your best and hope that readers come, discover your books and authors.

Take a look at the trailer for Genni Gunn’s travel memoir, Tracks, or Denise Roig’s new book Brilliant or even the trailer for my book, Nicolai's Daughters.

They’re great, aren’t they?

Yes, books are as different from movies as apples and oranges. I agree with Stephen King. Books and movies don’t taste the same. But don’t count books out just yet. We’re learning and adapting. And we will hold our own.

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