vrijdag 16 december 2011

Book Trailers: Awkward Authors or Works of Art?

Book trailers have been around for almost ten years now, but they don't seem to create the amount of 'buzz' they are supposed to. This isn't stopping the publishers, though, as we see more and more book trailers popping up on the internet.

If you compare these book trailers to the ones we see in the cinema, you start to wonder why authors and publishers still even try. Creating a trailer for a film seems easy enough. You try to pique the interest of the viewer by showing them the most interesting parts of the story, by using the most visually attractive images you can have in your movie. You can't do this with a book, because there are no images. You will need to start from scratch and create a visual world for a textual medium, and as we all know from various movie adaptations, this doesn't always get it right. Before I wrote this article it seemed wise to research the subject and watch as many book trailers I could find. I learned that book trailers are no exception to the adaptation rule. A good example of this is the book trailer for Joseph Finder's Power Play, which makes the book look like a corporate version of Die Hard without the great one liners by Bruce Willis.

Instead of making me interested in reading this book it actually turned me off of it. Mind you, this was not a book trailer for a vanity writer who thought it would be 'fun' to also produce a trailer with his friends. Finder has written eleven novels, won several International Thriller Awards and is frequently reviewed in the New York Times. I'll admit that the New York Times isn't the penultimate authority when it comes the quality of books and their review of this particular one wasn't exactly raving, but it does mean that Joseph Finder is a serious writer, with serious writing credit.

Luckily there are also a lot of fun, interesting and above all good book trailers. An example I personally like is Packing for Mars: SpaceHygiene, a book by Mary Roach that tries to answer strange questions about going into space.

This trailer is quirky, funny and gives you a sense of the content of the book without giving away the entire story. Because Packing for Mars is a non-fiction work, not giving away the story doesn't seem particularly hard. When you create a trailer for a novel, however, this gets more difficult. A trailer shouldn't give you the feeling that you already know how the story is going to unfold. If that is the case, why would you need to read the book? An example of a trailer for a work of fiction that doesn't do this, is the trailer for A Super Sad True Love Story.

Instead of focusing on the story, it focuses on the author. They briefly explain what the book is about, but nothing is given away. Instead of conveying a story, it conveys an overall feeling that you can expect to find in the book. It conveys the style of the author, stating that if you enjoyed this trailer, you will enjoy this writer. Besides the funny tone of the trailer, it also uses so-called 'star power' by inserting famous actors and authors like James Franco and Jeffrey Eugenides, proving that even the literary world isn't impervious to using celebrities for advertisement. These author-oriented trailers don't always work as well as this one though and sometimes you end up with the author awkwardly talking about his book and the act of reading (yes, I'm talking about you Jonathan Franzen)

There are many more examples of good and bad trailers, but the ultimate question from a marketing point of view is in the end, do they work? Is it worth it for a publisher to spent his valuable time and money on a book trailer? This question doesn't have an easy answer. With every marketing tool it is difficult to point out if it actually influences sales or not if your customers don't specifically tell you. The only way to find out if they actually work is to ask every single person who buys a book if they saw the trailer and if this was the reason they bought it.
In 2008 The Wall Street Journal has tried to assess the effect of creating trailers on book sales. They came to the conclusion that 'there is scant evidence […] that the average book trailer has much impact on sales'. There haven't been more recent studies on this, which is a shame, because it would be interesting to see if this changed in the growing world of e-books.

Many publishers keep returning to the keywords 'creating a buzz'. The objective is to make people talk about the book and recognize it when they're browsing their bookshop. I said at the start though, that this 'buzz' doesn't really seem to exist. Many people haven't even heard of book-trailers and if they have, they don't seem to notice them.

An interesting take on book trailers comes from filmmakers Scott Thrift and Ari Kuschnir. Rather than seeing the trailer as a way to market a book, they approach it as a work of art on its own. Something to be a companion to the book, rather than a mere representation of it. Their own attempt at making a trailer for the supernatural thriller Blood and Ice is actually very impressive. 

It gives a small hint of what the story is about, but it mostly creates an eerie atmosphere. The clip is intriguing even if you even you don't know it's about a book. After watching many trailers I have to admit that I agree with them. My favourite trailers are the ones that don't give away the story, but create an extra dimension. They give an impression of the author and of the general atmosphere of the book. A trailer that is an artwork of its own, something remarkable and interesting, will definitely create that 'buzz' everybody keeps talking about.

maandag 16 mei 2011

Street art

It can make a whole day a little bit better when streets are decorated with funny stuff, that makes you snigger while walking by. I found some really cool pictures of street art, which are probably not very new art pieces, but in my opinion still worth sharing.

First of all, as a lace fan I wished all fenches looked like this.

Lacefence found at blog.freepeople.com

I have been working at a store in Delft since a month now and in that month I learned that the city is known for its wrecked bikes that get trown in the water by drunken students. Every now and then a big truck with a special reacher is coming by to get them out. Not just a few bikes but a whole truckload full of them is covered from the water. It is very interesting to observe, but probably not as special as this:
New York bike, pictured by a facebookfriend
And then there is the work of artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera which brightens up the streets of Paris, by filling crackes up with wool.

Wool in streets found at blog.freepeople.com

dinsdag 26 april 2011

Talking Cacti and Pet Wolves

Just a very fast, very short post today. I’ve been working on my thesis this entire weekend, instead of eating Easter eggs and visiting Ikea. I actually should be working on it right now, but I really needed a break. Besides writing this post in my tiny breaks, I’ve been reading the webcomic Girls With Slingshots. It’s a comic by Danielle Corsetto about two friends called Hazel and Jamie. They like to drink and talk to their plants. So if you feel bored or you’re just procrastinating like I am, go read some comics.

If this doesn't make you interested, I don't know what will...

I’ve also seen the first two episodes of Game of Thrones and I think it looks pretty cool. I have no clue what the books are about and hadn’t even heard of the series before it became such a hype, but I kinda like it! I also really want a direwolf as a pet now, they make it seem awesome! My boyfriend tells me it’s not possible, but a girl needs to have her dreams.

Aren't they just adorable?

I’ll be off to working on this schoolstuff some more and on a bigger post about a cool book I’ve read recently. We’ll be back to normal posting as soon as possible.

woensdag 13 april 2011

Keep Portland Weird

It’s time to face it. I have been denying it for much too long. I’ve been hiding behind frilly dresses, high heels, living in Rotterdam and having a ton of beauty products.
But the truth is my beauty products are vegan and organic, I live in a squatting home in Rotterdam, I buy mostly vintage clothing and even the metal I listen to is pagan metal.

I’ve been thinking of raising some chickens, riding horses bareback and becoming an organic farmer.

Hi, my name’s Lotte – and I’m a hippy

The next logical step, obviously, is to move to Portland.

This picture was taken by -Dons
You can find out more about the Portland Pony Project right here

This picture was taken by David Mark Erickson

This is Sam Adams, Portland's mayor
what a babe - look at that proud jaw 

 Now, I must admit, I have never been to Portland. All I know about it is from Portlandia, or the time I was vegan and saw it as Heaven on Earth. I will be visiting the beautiful weird city in June. I will be able to share much more with you then. For now I'll just leave you with some Wonderful Weirdness that makes this city pretty awesome.

This picture was taken by Dan Haneckow
It's Le Happy. Are you hungry for some delish' crepes? Go here! It's at 1011 NW 16th Avenue

MRS.FRENCH took this picture of Saint Cupcake
It's at 407 nw 17th ave @ flanders
Just one look at the menu made me drool

This picture was taken by Todd Mecklem
It's Powell's City of Books! This is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. You can find it at 1005 W Burnside 

And in case you're not convinced that this city might be one of the most awesome places on Earth, I'll leave you with some Portlandia. If you are from Portland, you might be offended by these. But, honestly, dear Portlandians, that makes you even more like the people portrayed on Portlandia.

I found this picture at Marta Writes

Some links for more Portland love:
SoupCycle - a company that delivers hearty organic soups by bicycle
Portland Places - a blog by Abby tells you about where to go in Portland
Portland Events, Music, Art, Entertainment, Sustainability - PDXPipeline
The I heart Portland group on Flickr

dinsdag 12 april 2011

Awkward Dancing Improves Your Indie Cred

This Saturday me and my boyfriend went to the festival Motel Mozaique. It’s a cultural festival where known and unknown bands, art, theater and food come together.
I mostly went for Belle and Sebastian and next to José Gonzales, it was the only thing I saw that night, but it was enough! I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to Belle and Sebastian and only learned about them when I saw their video of Funny Little Frog (my indie cred just flew out of the window). But it was love at first site and after listening to all their albums, waiting for their newest one and even owning a calendar, it was time to see them live.

They only play one show in Holland this entire year, and I was there! It was a fun, crazy show, unlike any other I’ve seen so far. There was a lot of awkward dancing, awkward audience people and more awkward conversation. I’ve never seen this much awkwardness in one room! They pulled people on stage to dance with them, which was great fun. I forget my camera, so I couldn’t take any pictures and I still can’t find any video’s of the dancing online. So too bad, but I can’t show it to you! I really liked Chris Geddes and his piano, he looked nice and geeky in the background, but sounded really cool playing all his music. Stuart Murdoch was also being a great frontman, wearing a cool hat and suddenly appearing in the midst of the audience to do some more singing and to shake some hands. He even put on some mascara, especially for us! They are a very interesting and energetic band, which isn’t always the case with indie music.  Because it had been a while since they visited Rotterdam, or Holland for that matter, they played some oldies next to their new album. My favourite album is The Life Pursuit (any indie cred I had left is now gone altogether) and I was really happy they played Sukie in the Graveyard, which is such a fun and upbeat song.

I did find two other video’s so you can also enjoy some of it. I especially like the second one because Stevie Jackson was making fun of our musical talent. Have a look and if you get the chance to see the, definitely go there! And if you can’t go see them, just listen to some of their albums, or all of their albums. I promise they will put a smile on your face.

woensdag 30 maart 2011

Kidnapping ideas 3: The Oh Comely Art Edition

First of all I feel like I need to apologize for the lack of updates lately. We’ve all been pretty busy and blogging sort of drew the shortest straw. We’ll off course try to update every week, but we might not always make it. That said, I was waiting to make a new kidnapping ideas post, because I had bought many new magazines. But again, due to too little hours in a day, I still haven’t read all of them. What I’ll do is make a bunch of shorter posts about 1 magazine in particular every time. This time it will be issue five of Oh Comely. It had so many great things again, but there were two art things that I thought were really cool!

Birds in Hats
Alice Tam was interviewed by Oh Comely about her website Birds in Hats, which is exactly what it sounds like: she draws birds in hats and they are awesome! She doesn’t go for the obvious combinations and really gives the birds a personality. One of my personal favorites is the Flamingo in a Fascinator, but she drew so many that you can pick a favorite for yourself!

Flamingo in a Fascinator

Robin in a Christmas Top Hat

England Revisited
This article/interview was about an art project by Simon English called England Revisited. In 1971 he visited 75 points across England picked carefully by writing the word ENGLAND on a map of the country. He met interesting people, found relatively unknown country spots and left notes on every mark. But 40 years later, he found himself wanting to revisited the places he had been. He took pictures, trying the find the original places he went to the first time around, which really makes you think about change. It’s interesting to see how much or how little some things change in such a big amount of time. All the pictures and video’s from his trip can be found on his website and you won’t regret taking a look. If I ever make an art work I want it to be something big and impressive like this. 

Point 16 in 1971

Point 16 in 2010
Point 33 in 1971

Point 33 in 2010

Travelling Notebooks
Besides the above art, Oh Comely also tried to make a work of their own by handing out 35 notebooks to strangers and asking them to write in them, pass them on to others and sending them back when they are full. Only two notebooks came back, which was really disappointing. I thought the idea was so great and if they want to try it again, we’ll participate and make sure the notebook will be sent on.

In non-oh Comely related artwork: I also found a cool comic that I want to share! It’s a comic made by Anne Emond, who is a writer, illustrator and drawer of comics from Brooklyn. Her comics are mostly about herself and other people looking ridiculous, but to me they are mostly very recognizable, funny and awesome!

zaterdag 19 maart 2011

Home is were the heart...

At the moment I live in Rotterdam together with my boyfriend in a house at the most notorious street of the city. Maybe even the most notorious street of the country, due to some current events.. My house is pretty big, super cheap and I do feel at home in it, but when I am grown up and rich I would like to own something like this:

House with Slide, .fubiz.net

The slide-house above is build in Tokyo, like the one below is too. I hope with all my heart that everyone in Tokyo will persevere and can stay in their marvelous houses. I think these houses are able to make you forget the horrors of the past last days a tiny little bit.

Another great house far away from the disasters is this tree-house in the forests around Portland.

Or this mountainhome in the Swiss Alps, which is placed 1250 m height on the mountain. You can rent it and stay there for €1800 a week (in the off-season..In the high season it is twice as expensive.) If you are interested and are willing to spend that money, book it here: http://www.villavals.ch/.