Book trailers are a fairly recent phenomenon in the publishing industry. They originated less than ten years ago, based on the venerable institution of the movie trailer, but have only really taken off since the development of video sharing sites such as Youtube.
Book trailers are a form of advertising for a book. Initially, they were literally sales pitches. Produced by publishers, and sometimes authors themselves, they were tools to pique interest in the novel. Their popularity has exploded, and many have gone viral, becoming a vital part of many publishers’ marketing strategies.
Book trailers can vary tremendously in how they are produced. Some are fully scripted mini-movies, and others are simply uploaded PowerPoint presentations. The one thing they all share in common is a desire to introduce the book, and convert viewers of the trailer into readers of the book.
In the last few years, the use of book trailers in education has become widespread. There is now a substantial body of research showing that book trailers are a useful form of pre-visualisation, and can help engage reluctant readers in a text. Students creating their own book trailer can be a powerful learning experience, combining learning goals from reading, writing, technology and the arts to produce a real product that they can share with others.
Where to find book trailers
Digital Booktalk. A specialist K-12 site, hosting work by students and others, with an emphasis on the use of trailers in class. This site is the online home of Drs. Robert Kenny and Glenda Gunter, who have conducted most of the academic research on the use of book trailers in schooling.
Trailerspy is a collection of submitted book trailers
Comic Book Trailers does what it says – trailers for comics.
Book-trailers.net is another repository of trailers
Booktease Website of an Australian book trailer creator
As mentioned above, there are many ways to produce a book trailer. These sites will provide assistance and examples on how to create book trailers with a range of software types.
These first sites offer guidance on producing a book trailer using two pieces of software almost universally available in schools: PowerPoint and Movie Maker.
Free Course - How to Make a Book Trailer (using PowerPoint)
Creating Book Trailers in Photo Story 3
These sites offer more general and wide ranging advice, moving on to other software types and techniques:
For more guides on video editing, see our Video page.
Examples – professional
These examples are a small selection of professionally produced book trailers. There are many thousands more a simple web-search away.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
It’s a Book!
Examples – student
These book trailers were made by students either in class, or sometimes out of their own interest and passion for the books.
This video for The Hunger Games was a winner in the Inkys in 2009
Another student trailer for The Hunger Games:
An animated trailer for John Green’s Looking for Alaska:
This trailer for Bear and Chook by the Sea by a grade 5 student won him an award from the Children’s Book Council:
Make your own trailer
Students make a book trailer for a novel they have read. Use of technology will of course depend on access available at your school, but could include anything from a straightforward PowerPoint hosted online, to full-cast mini-dramas, with original soundtracks and special effects. If making the trailer itself is not possible, then it can be storyboarded.
Critiquing book trailers
Students view and critique book trailers. Were they professionally made, or amateur made? What format did they use? Did they entice you to read the book? What worked well and what did not work well? Are the most expensive trailers necessarily the most effective? Do book trailers add to the experience of a book?