TV Commercials For Novels: Do They Work?

September 13, 2009 at 3:35 pm 4 comments

As I was searching through YouTube, a thought occured to me randomly. Light Novels are sometimes given TV Commercials to make aware their presence. The idea of course of a book trailer is nothing new. They’ve been done before many times in America. But I wondered, do they actually work? I did a quick Google Search about the subject, and sure enough, as almost always happens, someone else had asked the question already, and a discussion had grown about it. I briefly read through it, grasping the main points the writers were making. One of the articles I cam across was on Publisher’s Weekly, and had different people within the publishing industry giving their opinions on the value of a book trailer.

Something that truly interested me, was the fact that a book trailer isn’t really a trailer at all, when compared to movie trailers or a trailer for a TV show. A trailer in those cases is merely parts of the already made product, being brought together in a  spliced up format to make the viewer ‘want’ to see more. But in the case of a Book Trailer, it’s really quite different. You actually have to ‘create’ film footage to use for your trailer.

Either way, it seemed that the majority were of an opinion that book trailer were rarely done well. They held that a badly produced book trailer could inhibit people to buy the book, but they also seemed to hold that even a good one wouldn’t neccesarily equal purchase sales when the reader traveled to the local bookstore.

So then, I thought, how are book trailers in America different from one’s done in Japan? Specifically for Light Novels.

The following are two American book trailers that premiered on TV.

The following two book trailers are from Japan, and were made to advertise the first Boogiepop and Zaregoto novels.

How you choose to view the two different sets of trailers is up to you. But something that was most noticeable to me, is that in the case of the Boogiepop novel’s TV trailer, it actually had custom animation made to advertise it. Quite an interesting decision.

Light Novels of course, unlike Mainstream Novels in the US, have the added advantage of already having illustrations which can be used in a book’s trailer. In the case of US novels, there is only text.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, perhaps it’s a fan base kind of thing, in any case, I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts regarding this.

Do you think book trailer’s really work? Does watching the Boogiepop or Zaregoto trailer make you want to buy the books? Or for that matter, did the American commercials make you desire to purchase the novels? If yes, to either, do you think Publishers should use TV commercials to promote such novels as Haruhi?

Leave your comments below. I look forward to reading them.


Entry filed under: Articles.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kafkafuura  |  September 13, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    What I noticed, besides the appealing graphics and interaction of the Japanese trailers vs. the English trailers is that like movie trailers, “scenes” were used out of the novels. Dialogue, characters actually in character. They feel more like trailers. I can safely say I’m more interested in Boogiepop than I was before – I already am a fan of Zaregoto 🙂

    The first American trailer just didn’t catch my attention from the start, and completely killed me when the announcer said “read this book!” If you know the author already it might be cool to hear him talk about his own book, but it felt like he was just reading the back cover with an undramatic voice clashing with the music that was trying to be dramatic.

    The second American trailer was better. It used nice images and color, it felt like the announcer may have been trying to hard to sound spooky as he said “thriller”, but overall my interest was caught.

    I wonder what would happen if American book trailers toyed with the same idea of using “clips” from the books, as opposed to a vague outline.

  • 2. takatsu  |  September 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    The second american one was alot better than the first. But it seemed to amateur video style and i not really scenes straight from the book?

    But the japanese ones owns all of them.

    These trailers remind me of the makeshift book trailer i threw together from anime pictures for my cellphone novel. haha It’s funny, because somehow my trailer wasn’t at all that bad even though it was only a slideshow (according to some people) i think its all about using graphics/characters/animations/video footage of things that seem like its straight out of the book, instead of using images that look like it’s from a database or like googled or something (the first american one) making it more offficial and effective.

    of course the japanese light novels are at an advantage when they can just get a few anime production companies to make a trailer from scratch. Where as you need to hire actors and film footage for any other kinds of book trailers. for my book “Trailer”

  • 3. blewin  |  September 14, 2009 at 2:42 am

    “Do you think book trailer’s really work?”

    well, it hasn’t been tried in Western countries, who knows? People might be resistant to the idea at first, owing to the argument of how visuals tend to stifle imagination and that people are not used to the marketing style of book trailer.

    But I think book trailer would really work well with the young generation, since it’s a generation of visual viewers. Now if we’ve novels and their equivalent visual teasers to be broadcast whenever a new installment comes out… We might not need extremely good and attractive stories like Harry Potter to get the young generation back into reading.

  • 4. kafkafuura  |  September 14, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    The problem I think is where to broadcast book trailers. If you broadcast them on a TV, you’re not going to get much of a reaction. Unless you’re paying top dollar for important slots at times when “the world is watching”, 95-98% of the people watching the tube are the type that don’t read books. If you broadcast them in the theater you have the same issue. Perhaps you could pull it off attached to the movie based on a relatively reader base famous book, but those aren’t exactly superfluous.

    Advertisements for books should be targeted where readers are. Newspapers, magazines – etc. Really though the only things I ever see are big posters in bookstores. Light Novels need to start at that stage at least, bookstore campaigns, and get along side other “literature”. I thought Nisioisin put it best in that interview in Faust that light novels have the problem as not being treated as literature but something much lower.

    As for getting the nation to read – I just think it would be great of literary magazines gained flair. Throw more foreign lit into the school system so less people will be bored to death from day one of their reading career. D:


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Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

So come all you light novel enthusiasts! Come one and all! We may be a niche, and may represent one of the smallest markets in these economically troubled times, but we are also one of the most dedicated! So let us come together and support the industry we love and hold so dearly!



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