The idea of film ‘trailers’ for books may look like yet another unpleasant twist in the commodification of literature, or, at the very least, an attempt to convince consumers that books really are just like movies, but all the same there have been some enjoyable results. Most trailers consist of the author reading a short (and usually dramatic) extract from the book over a montage of images. The recent one for Joshua Ferris’s The Unnamed is a pretty representative example:
There are, however, plenty of deviations from this model. Thomas Pynchon’s voiceover on the trailer for Inherent Vice isn’t a reading from the novel but a scene-setting monologue in the voice of the protagonist: ‘Oh, my name, ah, my name’s Doc, and I’m a private gumshoe, nowadays more like gumsandal.’ (Pynchon? Who’s he?) Listen out for the double take at the end when ‘Doc’ reads how much the book costs:
At their boldest, the trailers dispense with words altogether (which when you think about it is a bit like a film trailer doing without images), as in the animated film Faber commissioned from George Wu for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes:
Online trailers can be disseminated far more cheaply than print adverts, and can in theory reach a wider audience, but I don’t suppose they have any great effect on sales: most readers probably don’t need YouTube to tell them that Pynchon or Ishiguro has a new book coming out.