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Video book trailers and multimedia fiction

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Lindesay Irvine examines the use of video trailers to promote books and speculates on their implications for fiction as a whole.

It's a Book Trailer
It's a Book Trailer

Book trailers like the one for John Lanchester's Capital have grown increasingly sophisticated, moving from simple author interviews to clever multimedia productions. But besides raising awareness about the book in question, what purpose do they serve? Lindesay Irvine of The Guardian sees these trailers as an ambiguous middle ground between advertising and art. "Are they using the film and animation," she asks, "to suggest the rest of the advertised text — or somehow enhancing what's there in the book?" If the latter, then why aren't they included in the book itself?

"It feels inevitable," Irving says, "that video and other multimedia are going to find their way in to the text; in fact, it would be bizarre if they didn't." Of course, plenty of new forms of reading have come and (mostly) gone. Back in 2000, another Guardian writer covered the "hypertext revolution," but online hypertext fiction — which combines pictures, sound, and text — largely hasn't changed the face of mainstream literature. However, multimedia annotations and other experimental projects are still in the works. Will these creations supplant purely textual books? Frankly, we doubt they will any more than movies did, but it's interesting to imagine the new storytelling possibilities they could create.