I saw this piece several months back (here) about how authors and publishers have taken to creating movie trailers for their book in hopes or reaching the web-addicted demographics and thought it seemed like a cool idea. I think the key is to have content available that can travel around the internet and snag potential readers. That means commissioning videos, author pictures and making excerpts available.

Will a trailer like this actually sell more books?

I’m not so sure, but if someone is a fan of the book and they want to write something online, it gives them more content to use and overall I think that’s a powerful thing.

So, when Andrew posted this video (here) of Dan Winters new book I immediately thought of the book trailer story and how this kind of thing really could sell more photo books. I think magazines could benefit from this kind of preview as well. Flipping through the book or magazine is exactly what you would do if you were standing in a bookstore or at a newsstand contemplating a purchase, so if you’re going to buy something online why not recreate the experience for the consumer. The added benefit is that it’s portable and can be passed along to reach even more people. I think ideally the book publishers are serving up these videos so when you click on them you’re taken some place where you have a buying opportunity. I think we will see more of this in the near future because I didn’t even know Dan had a new book coming out until I saw the video and now he sold one more book.

Bonus: Here’s an interview with Dan about the new book and a slideshow with high quality pictures (here) that someone left in the comments of Andrew’s post.

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  1. Speaking as a casual book reader, i’ve found that the imagery that comes to my mind is more special/personal to me then say, watching a movie based on the book (which suck 99% compared to the book). May not be in a huge dose, but these trailers are sort of telling you what and how one should visualize their reading experience. I dont wanna read pg.1 with a picture already formed in my mind.

    Do they want the readers to think of a book like its a movie? Cos i tend to enjoy movies more if watch it like its a book.
    I get there’s a (desperate) attempt to go after net users/ buyers but this trailer thing is quite bizarre for me.

    On the $$ side, the posted video seems to be high production so how much is this really costing the publishers and how many books have to sell before profit is made from it?

    Maybe i’m thinking too much of it but naturally i’m turned off by it.

  2. I think video is a great way to give people a taste of the content, design and layout of an art book. It also includes possibilities for the use of music and/or voice-overs, if the publishers wishes to include this information.

    I chose to utilize a video preview of my own book for several reasons. First, the book is an expensive limited edition, with limited distribution to select art and photography bookstores. The video enables anyone to preview the book, anywhere, anytime; and decide if they want to invest in the book. Second, the book was inspired by and shot in the city of Memphis, and inspired by that city’s music, so I chose to use some of that music in the “trailer.”


    Since I posted the video last year, I’ve begun to notice other people using videos to preview their books. For example, TV Books has “Quicktime Flip-Throughs” for most of its titles:


    It just makes sense to use the promotional and visual tools available. I also think book trailers can be particularly helpful to smaller publishers and people who are using print-on-demand technology, who often have relatively limited distribution. It’s a slightly more immersive, revealing way to show the book — but it doesn’t need to be any more revealing than the individual publishers wants it to be.

  3. That “Blood & Ice” vid makes a nice movie trailer but, like the first poster, I don’t know what this does for the sake of the printed book. I see print and online as divergent paths, not convergent ones.

  4. The Dan Winters video violates his copyright.

    And yet, clearly this is a good thing. As Cory Doctorow was quoted in the recent NYT article on pirated ebooks: “I really feel like my problem isn’t piracy,” Mr. Doctorow said. “It’s obscurity.”

    The book is a beautiful object that can’t be replaced by a video. Thankfully Dan agreed and didn’t send a DMCA takedown notice to WTJ, even though the entire book was ‘pirated.’

    • @Mason,
      I don’t understand the idea you’re pushing where if he doesn’t like video he would have no power to stop it. I think he should have the ability to send a DMCA takedown if he so chooses.

      • @A Photo Editor, Exactly. He has a right to send a DMCA notice, and if sent, WTJ has a legal obligation to take down the video.

        Just that sometimes *it is better to ignore your own copyright*. If the publisher is also ok with this, then the artist stands to benefit.

        There is a fantastic article on Techdirt titled: “The Grand Unified Theory On The Economics Of Free”

        They break down a strategy that all photographers (and artists) should at least consider, as this:

        “1. Redefine the market based on the benefits
        2. Break the benefits down into scarce and infinite components.
        3. Set the infinite components free, syndicate them, make them easy to get — all to increase the value of the scarce components
        4. Charge for the scarce components that are tied to infinite components”

        Dan’s photographs have the ‘benefit’ of being amazing work that everyone can enjoy. He has ‘scarce’ components (the book) and he has ‘infinite’ components (the photographs that can be digitally reproduced infinitely). By ignoring his own copyright (the publisher must also go along with this), Dan lets the video be seen by many, since it is easy to find and watch. The ‘scarce’ book then has an increased value because of the increased demand. He makes money off the book sale because of the widespread viewing of the video. Also, he potentially makes money of selling limited edition signed prints (another scarce resource).

  5. Print and online are converging and diverging paths, in many different ways. Just ask the New York Times. Surer, newspapers and photo books are different, but many of the same issues and lessons apply.

    It seems that convergence is winning. Google “Book Trailers.” See for yourself.

    And per the recent discussion on the excellent 5B4 Photography Book site, there are many who think it won’t be long until certain rare and out-of-print photo books find a new home online, or until people have the ability to download and print high-quality images at home.


    The online experience can never match the tactile pleasure of holding a book in one’s hands.

    In the end, this is an issue of convenience versus quality. And sadly, many can be expected to choose the former over the latter.

  6. Ain’t nuthin’ new. I worked on a book trailer produce by Pam Hauser back about 1978. Sorta like “Blood and Ice”, but for a romance novel.

    The Dan Winters video is a very good idea poorly executed. But it is a good starting point for a director with some visual literacy (horrible term).

    The video for “The Mystery Guest” is interesting, but a little long. A little too Film Schoolish.

    The video for “Furvert” just soloud me a book, short and to the point … with a great ending. Should do well on YouTube!

    BTW my background is TV commercials. I’m retired but still shoot a few Viral Marketing pieces.

    • @Joe Reifer,

      Jay Watson has a clue about production value. Love the popcorn. All it takes is a little imagination to make something like this work. If the Dan Winters video had just used a viewers POV like the Watson, it would have been much better.

    • @Joe Reifer,
      Yes, that’s the way to do it for sure.

      • The Winters video had no production value at all. It was filmed at the Book Soup party at the Powerhouse Arena during NYPH’09. It was chaotic to say the least. Lighting conditions etc were really poor. It was an impulse to do the film. I saw it and went shit that looks fantastic. I think my readers would really be excited. This is a book they would buy. The video does it no justice at all.

        I was excited to see the book and get it out there as a huge Dan Winters fan. Aperture have done little (if anything) to publicize its launch. So this was just a quick sneak peak. That was all.

        The video has received over 6300 views so far. I wonder how many extra books that will help sell? Especially the fact that no one knew it was coming out.

  7. Ever sat on the shitter with a hot laptop? Books (and great publications) aren’t going anywhere! Remember the Video iPod? Anyone watching movies on a 3 inch screen?

  8. I’ll throw my hat in the ring…
    I shot the book trailer for “Totally Killer” by Greg Olear in August for October release. The trailer is up now:

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