Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm Ready for My Close-up, Ms. Talese!

"Can video save the literary star?" (oy!) is the lede in an article by Julie Bosman in today's NYT: Favorite Author Not on Tour? See the Movie. British writer Ian McEwan is featured in a 23-minute film, which will debut at BEA and then be shown at bookstores in the U.S., most notably Powell's in Oregon. Seems McEwan has "declined to do traditional bookstore appearances to promote his new novel," ON CHESIL BEACH, coming June 5 from the Nan A. Talese imprint at Doubleday.
Such films could eventually take the place of in-store book readings, which attract fewer attendees all the time, many booksellers say. “Some authors go to events and are really captivating personalities,” said Dave Weich, the marketing manager at Powell’s Books. “That does not describe most of them.”
Oh yeah, like some author with a non-captivating personality is going to sparkle on camera. And who but someone who's already a literary star (which by definition means an author who's already logged many bookstore appearances) can afford to make a film like McEwan's? And let's not forget shelling out for media coaching so said author can act "naturally."

Bosman seems to have overlooked the fact that authors have been doing A/V presentations for some time already. Companies such as authorbytes.com produce websites with streaming video and book "trailers."

Though it may be hard to pull in audiences for in-store author events, I don't think they'll be supplanted by videos. Readers want to see and interact with the real, live person who wrote the book that they cuddle up with for nights on end. And a TV screen can't write a personalized inscription.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Very, very interesting. I haven't read Ian's reasons for doing so, but if he's thinking like I am, it's almost a complete waste of time to go into a bookstore, sit for hours, and sell maybe two books if you're lucky. Before you get mad at me for saying so, I do believe Ian has realized that he can get more mileage out of this than he can for one appearance in a bookstore, unless he is well-known then that may be a different ballgame altogether. My hunch (and I will read the article after this)is that he's either been there, done that, and sees the fantastic potential in this. A fantastic idea for a blog post this morning, thanks Bella!