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Now showing: The book trailer

It grabbed more than just eyeballs at the World Book Fair in Delhi, and before that, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. In fact, at the literature carnival, prior to the announcement of the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013, the audience was treated to a virtual journey into each of the nominated titles.

A screen grab from Blood Red Sari's book trailer
A screen grab from Blood Red Sari’s book trailer

Thanks to book trailers, one was able to get more than just a sneak peek of winner Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis as well as the contenders - Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim, Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke, Mohammed Hanif's Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and Uday Prakash’s The Walls of Delhi. The content varies from the acted out scenes in the book, with slick production stills and smart ad-lib, a catchy background score and cool infographics, to a chatty, teasing hard sell by the author.

Rahul Pandita speaks about his book, The Moon has Blood Clots
Rahul Pandita speaks about his book, The Moon has Blood Clots

Pick and choose
“The idea of book trailers has been around for a little while,” according to Caroline Newbury, VP Marketing and Publicity at Random House India. She adds that the publishing house focuses on doing videos for titles only when they know that their authors have a good following that will result in good viewing figures. “We also often combine a trailer idea with information videos - such as authors speaking straight to the camera about the book’s content, their writing and the series.” She cites book trailers for the Amish Tripathi series and The Bankster having had the desired effect, from a publisher’s viewpoint.

Hillary Clinton
Vignettes of Hillary Clinton’s life and times from the book trailer of The Secretary

Backing Newbury’s view about being selective with this visual medium, is Anurima Roy, Senior Manager Marketing (Academic & Trade), Bloomsbury Publishing India. She says, “Trailers cannot be made for every book either. Having said that, it definitely is an effective medium for certain books to attract a new reader and is useful especially for people who like to go through all the material they can find on the Internet before buying a book.” Her logic is that a book trailer can be good pre-publicity when uploaded on social media sites especially the online retail portals but it’s not the only medium for it.

Hillary Clinton

Ratna Joshi, HarperCollins India’s Deputy Manager (Promotions and Publicity) admits that it’s a good tool to get a book out in the open, revealing that their trailer for Ashok Banker’s latest title - Blood Red Sari was their most recent creation for a title. And while we were giving shape and form to this copy; we were inbox-ed Pan Macmillan’s book trailer for Kim Ghattas’ The Secretary, the first inside account of Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. Admittedly, the three-minute-36-second trailer had us hooked (despite the duration), and we hadn’t even begun reading the blurbs that followed the link in the mailer.

Hillary Clinton

The new booksellers
Roy tells us that, mostly such┬átrailers are made with inputs from the author and the publisher, although digital media companies have a bigger role to play now than they ever had. It’s where companies like Inknuts Multimedia Solutions come into the picture. Started in 2012, they’ve already created nearly 20 book trailers for clients like Scholastic India and Duckbill Books. Their portfolio consists of a combination of new releases as well old favourites. In fact, such is the demand for this medium that companies like Inknuts have a dedicated film crew, complete with shoots where actors perform scenes from the book! Along with a library of stock footage, music pieces, costumes and VFX specialists, it seems that soon-to-be bestseller, is creating a buzz, and is ready to play catch-up with its counterparts in the film and music world.

Time matters
While all of this might sound exciting, and a definite draw, the time factor of these trailers is crucial. Most publishers agree that these shouldn’t exceed a minute’s duration. Roy believes that a few “longer ones work pretty well. I have done trailers starting from 30 seconds up to two minutes, and they all worked in their own way. It shouldn’t be longer than that though because you don’t want a trailer to drag.” Drag, it didn’t; since, we were glued to our seat, watching trailer after another, that arrived in our inbox from some of India’s most diverse publishers. And now, off to the bookstore.

Watch these >>
> The Secretary http://www.youtube/watch?v=6TCdtoUVOEc
> Blood Red Sari http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D84b4XDxrzU)
> The Moon has Blood Clots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK64aLiBLQ8

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