Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

The day I got lost browsing for books on YouTube


I have to be honest. Until today, it never occurred to me that I could log on to YouTube and browse for books.

Sure, I knew there were videos out there; I’ve seen James Patterson commercials on television. I’ve seen interviews with authors posted on their websites, and I’ve even seen trailers posted on Amazon (though I’m pretty sure I’d never actually watched one). Nevertheless, if I wanted to find my next read, I’d go to the nearest bookstore. If that wasn’t an option, I’d go online and see what Amazon had to offer. Watching videos about books never really crossed my mind.

And then something strange happened.

I had been hearing a lot about Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (Blue Rider Press), a parody of the children’s classic, Goodnight Moon. I looked it up online, and I found this video posted on Penguin Group (USA)’s YouTube channel:

Notice that the ISBN is posted in the title of the video, and if you’re on the actual YouTube page, there is a link that brings you to Penguin’s website so you can purchase the book. It made so much sense, but the more I looked at it, the more questions I had. Would most people recognize the number as an ISBN? Based on this video, would people purchase the book? Would people purchase it as an ebook? Would people stumble on it via word-of-mouth, just as I had?

And then, in true YouTube fashion, I started exploring related videos. I found myself watching clips for books I never would have picked up in a bookstore, and before I knew it, a whole hour had passed by.

Here are a few examples I’d like to share, just for fun.

This is another one I found on Penguin’s channel. It reminded me of an assignment I had in my Applications for Print class at Emerson, and made me wish I had been more clever.

Here’s a slightly different example. In London, a flash mob was organized to promote a HarperCollins book, Last Dance with Valentino by Daisy Waugh. While it was a live event, the video seems to be a great way to continue promoting the book. Based on the clip, I couldn’t tell you what the book was about, but I would be inclined to investigate further:

This one for Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster’s channel), feels like a film trailer for the next blockbuster thriller. I saw quite a few trailers fashioned in this style:

And somehow, I wound up watching Modelland by Tyra Banks on Random House’s channel (don’t ask me, I have no idea, either):

It’s interesting. Some trailers feel like films, some rely heavily on typeface and design, and a lot of the children’s books seamlessly transition between an iPad and the animated story. As I said at the beginning of this post, creating videos for books is not necessarily new, but I never viewed them as particularly effective until now. I don’t know if it’s because books are beginning to trend more toward digital, or if it’s merely the convergence of technology in nearly all aspects of our lives that somehow makes it more logical. Done right, a good trailer can go viral in a matter of minutes.

As I close this post, I leave you with one last example that I also watched via Penguin’s channel:

Are book trailers, author interviews, and glossy production clips something that authors and publishers should be paying more attention to? I’m inclined to say “yes,” but I’d be interested to hear what you think. Would a compelling YouTube video, or a clip posted on an author’s website, convince you to check out a book?

2 comments on “The day I got lost browsing for books on YouTube

  1. Claire Schulz
    November 21, 2011

    One of my favorite book trailers so far has to be for Quirk’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Watch it here:

    While I didn’t run out and buy the book (I found PPZ to be pretty uninspiring, beyond pure amusement value, and wasn’t keen on reading the spinoffs), book trailers strike me as a fascinating new part of our digital age. Just another way in which the lines between media are becoming blurred in strange and exciting ways…

  2. Horace
    March 14, 2012

    There’s another very cinematic Agent 6 trailer too:

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on November 21, 2011 by in Opinion and tagged , .

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