Monday, March 14, 2005

"I Have Seen The Future, And The Future..."


VidLit [insert TradeMark symbol here, if you've got one handy; I don't] first came to my attention with its promotional animation for YIDDISH WITH DICK AND JANE; the book has been (I'll say, without any actual data in hand--perhaps someone else can help?) a terrific success, and it sounds like significant credit for this success goes to the VidLit promotion--and to Little, Brown's marketing department, for its out-of-the-box thinking.

More recently MJ Rose brought to our attention two new VidLit creations: one for a business-y book called HOUSE OF LIES (Warner Business Books)--which has the wonderful subtitle "How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and then Tell You the Time"--and another for Bertice Berry's novel WHEN LOVE CALLS YOU BETTER ANSWER (Broadway Books) (a comedy, I take it, from the animation), both of which are totally engaging.

There's more to be said about VidLit--preferably by people who actually know something about it/them; and nobody's saying this is right for every book--

[Though I confess the thought of what they might come up with for Kathryn Harrison's THE KISS does give me a perverse thrill]


ALL YOU PUBLISHING MO-FOs ESPECIALLY--THIS STUFF IS GOOD! CHECK IT OUT! (And if you're NOT a publishing mo-fo, but know someone who is, please forward this along. It's easy: at the bottom of this post there's the universal "email-a-friend" back-of-an-envelope logo. Click on that icon, and go from there.)

Now: when I say "the future is VidLit," I don't necessarily mean VidLit per se, and/or VidLit exclusively. The proprietors of VidLit may, for all I know, be corrupt, foul-mouthed exploiters of Third World labor; and/or producers of what Judith Regan refers to as "smart sex" (otherwise known as "pornography"); and/or played some scurrilous role in the "Swift Boat Vets for Bush" campaign (in which case they'd know Carl Rove's secret handshake)... So we're not necessarily giving them any humanitarian awards at this point in time--we're just saying we like their stuff.

Furthermore, VidLit may be but one of several deserving wearers of the "the future is" mantle: surely there others out there doing similarly original and exciting work--like JibJab, perhaps? creators of "This Land," the most singularly, and hilariously, nonpartisan skewering of our two most recent political candidates--

Hey, JibJab--you given any thought to book promotions? Don't forget--publishers are cheap sons-a-bitches...
Well: there's good stuff going on out there; whether it costs a fortune or not I don't know; but everybody should CHECK IT OUT!

P.S. The VidLit fine-print says these demos won't perform properly on dial-up; they worked OK from my dial-up line, they were just a little slow to load. Be patient; it's worth it.


Ami said...

In Canada we have the start of something equally as nifty with something called "book shorts".

Their biggest splash came this past year with the release of Susan Swan's, What Casanova Told Me and they now have other shorts in production to promote a documentary, a memoir, and other novels.

here's a description from the site:
Judith Keenan, founder of BookShorts, has advanced a new genre of entertainment – short films, animations and interactive media that capture the spirit of a book in moving images.

BookShorts are shown all over the festivals, movie theaters, on the net, viewing kiosks at book stores, and many other venues.

Anonymous said...

Vidlit : Bookshorts :: Creative : Yawn

sorry Ami - best to hide bookshorts in CanCon dustbin if that's the best they can do

Anonymous said...

I can't even see how you can compare bookshorts with vidlits. What is so amazing about vidlits is that they are entertaining in themselves.

Anonymous said...

This VidLit medium is good for the eyes too! Especially for that gargantuan group of readers, the Baby Boomers, who are desperately seeking over-the counter reading glasses these day, now that they are aging (okay, I include myself in this group but not the aging part of course). See this link to David Mehegan’s article in the March 14 Boston Globe (Arts & Entertainment) re: why mass paperbacks are in decline and how publishers are coming out with a new format to accommodate boomers’ sight-challenged eyes.

Libertarian Girl said...

I've seen two brief "Book Short" segments (one with Peter Robinson, another with Ian Rankin) that had been edited down from longer interviews.

Here's the Book Shortslink; and here's a link for Peter Robinson's interview--once you're at his website, scroll down for the feed to what they call the "TV Commercial."

I agree that these aren't as inherently original or entertaining as what VidLit does, but that's not the point, really. They are engaging (and, by publishing standards, jazzy) and gave a good sense of the personality behind the book. A thing doesn't necessarily have to be inventive to be effective.

Anonymous said...

Hi Max –

The way you are describing it I think you could call any flash movie for a book a vidlit. The British version of life of pi did something similar (sadly, no longer available online)

Vidlit’s strength is Liz’s ability to craft funny trailers, and to get sites to links to them - which is the real secret to online marketing.

The nice thing about blogs is you can watch that as it happens –

Right now on these two a lot of the buzz is coming from you. If it spreads – YOU might be the future of book marketing.

Libertarian Girl said...

OK, now I'm a little annoyed. The Anonymous post above includes the comment

"The nice thing about blogs is you can watch that as it happens –"

So I checked out these urls, and they're some sort of "Technorati" Watchlist--something I don't understand at all. So I wrote back the following email:

OK, now, I want a real live person (with a name; not for attribution on my blog, unless you want that--but so that I can understand what the hell you're talking about) to explain to me, in techno-spaz (lay) terms,

A) what's Technorati, and what purpose do these Watchlists serve BESIDES letting an individual (me, say) track who's linking to my site etc.? That is to say: how could I, as, say, a writer, or a publisher, use such a watchlist [also: am I right in thinking the Watchlists are the kernal of your service?] to actually, say, help market my book?

B) and this note, on my site--I don't mean this as a criticism, but so that I really understand it--this is [the post above], sort of, a sales pitch, right?

I'm stupid about technology. If you can explain this to me in a way that I can explain it to other dumb-asses, then we might actually get somewhere.

Mad Max Perkins

What I'm annoyed by is that I've heard from NOBODY at Technorati, and in fact received only an "auto-reply" indicating that they appreciated my comments but would not reply.

So: can anybody help clarify?

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