Book Trailers: Friend or Foe?

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Photograph: 'Our fiction writing' / CC

I am in turmoil over the recent popularity of book trailers. I despise the use of technology where literature is concerned however I was forced to get a Kindle to allow authors to send me their books for me to review, as that is the route most authors prefer. But reading on a device is not the same as holding a book in your hand, the feel, smell, and intimacy can not transcend to an e-reader. I understand it has made literature more widely available to the masses which is not a bad thing however I can only hope they in no way serve to eradicate actual books. I will never understand anyone preferring a kindle to an actual book, it is beyond my comprehension.

To add book trailers is another confusion to me. Do people need to have an actual visual of what the book is about before they will read it? Are we going to end up with screens wired into the backs of books soon so people can watch the trailer as opposed to reading the blurb? Reading is a very personal endeavor, no two persons ever read the same book, as Edmund Wilson said. To read a book is to use your own mind, to see things no one else has, to imagine the world for yourself through the words. I feel these trailers detract from that, plant their own ideas of the book inside your head, provide a look at the protagonist before you’ve had a chance to conjure them for yourself. Why is this necessary?

In my researching of them, I came across some trailers that use only text and sound to convey the idea of the book. This is a much better way of doing it than the “movie” trailers most of them appear as, which I greatly dislike. This is where my turmoil begins, if these trailers can reach a wider audience and attract more people to reading then that can not be a bad thing. If by putting these trailers among TV adverts people go out and buy a book the next day then I can not complain. Can I?

My worry is that literature is going to become purely about big sales, leading to more trashy novels that are written with the sole purpose of appealing to as many people as possible (I will refrain from naming names but I’m sure we all know what I mean by this). I feel there has already been a decline in recent decades of really great literature, well written, mind blowing literature that creates something new and descends through the generations, leaving a legacy. What will the legacy of recent years be? To think of the most popular books of the past ten years makes me almost lose hope for the future of literature.

There are wonderful books out there, amazing recent books that give me that hope back and yet they are often eclipsed by the books that are easily transformed into films, books that almost seem to have been written for that very purpose, books that make the author very rich. I was born a reader, literature has been my whole life and maybe this is why I fail to understand. I have never moved with the technological times, never wanted to. If linking literature with technology keeps reading alive then I will come to accept it. Though I am fearful that it is all just part of the progression that may rid future generations of something that will be replaced only by more screens.

Maybe I am just old fashioned and too out of touch with current times. However, I am happy with that. I will not be allowing mini movies to establish which books I will read, and I will not be investing money into e-books when I can have the pleasure of a real one. If I did that what on earth would I put on all of my bookshelves?

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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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