Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm an old Fogy

Does anyone even know what “Fogy” means anymore? Well, I am an old fogy, definitely a curmudgeon, quite a bit of a luddite, perhaps something of an A**h**e. And it shows up in many ways. But I will tell you one way. Maybe we can laugh at it.

First, please, my friends, do not take this the wrong way. Especially those of you who are youthful and/or embrace the mixed media generation that we are living in. But I just really dislike the whole concept of book trailers. Consider my opening paragraph and feel free to ignore me. Go for the young and hip crowd if you will, and if I know you and like you I'll buy your book even if you have a book trailer. But I probably won't watch the trailer unless I'm somehow forced to.

I just really dislike book trailers. Have I said that? Have I said why? I'll tell you why. I read books because they are books. I watch very little TV, except for football, and not many movies, unless I'm getting them for free and they happen to be on at just the right time. Lana has given up bringing movies home that I've made some mention of maybe watching. If I'm required to get up and switch some cables around on the back of the TV to watch a movie, pretty much any movie, I just won't do it. It's not laziness; it's because I don't care that much one way or the other whether I see a movie or not.

Well, book trailers evoke TV/Movies to me, and my immediate reaction is like a case of the hives. I want all the drama of a story to be on the page, and I don't typically want drama sort of forced on me from outside. I also really, really enjoy the visualization aspect of reading, and I don't want my visualization to be overly influenced by the visualization of others. The book trailers I've seen tend to do both of those things, and it doesn't work well for me. In fact, I've never seen a book trailer that made me want to buy a book; I've seen several that made me not want to buy one.

Again, don't go by me you young-at-heart folks. Most people are not like me. (This is almost certainly a very good thing.) Just call me an old fogy, tell me the world is passing me by. I’ll agree with you, but I don’t regret my fogyness. I find it rather comforting even. I wouldn't even take that hipster transplant if it was offered.



Barbara Martin said...

I'm joining you in the fogy department with respect to book trailers and book reading. I can decide for myself by reading the jacket copy whether the book will be a good fit or not. As far as visual media through book trailers is concerned, it spoils whatever is in the story. I prefer using my own mental imaging while reading than to have it flashed before my eyes.

Unknown said...

Absolutely! Another old fogey sounds off and I'd like to add to that already said that I'm also not fond of movie trailers either and I'm an avid movie watcher!

pattinase (abbott) said...

They barely persuade me to see movies so why would they work with books. I see what I see and read what I read independent of trailers.

Richard Prosch said...

Indeed. Today's movie trailers tend to give away the entire story. I'm continuously amazed when I see them at how "now I don't have to see the movie." To apply that sensibility to a book scares me.

laughingwolf said...

lol... gotta say i agree with your observations, charles, and the rest of you

as for tv, it's hooked up to my dvd player, only, and watch even that rarely... and NO tv at all, for going on three years, at least

Gabby said...

I don't think your an old fogy! I think book trailers are weird. I had a friend who had an e-book that some friends of hers offered to do a trailer for her. It was ... interesting. The way she went on and on about the finished product made me at least want to see it for her sake, but ... it felt a little lacking. I get that reading, for some, is becoming a lost art, but surely there are ways to "advertise" a book that makes it more appealing than a short, and sometimes oddly-produced trailer.

Jean said...

I canceled cable at least 6 years ago. The only thing I use the tv for is watching movies, which I enjoy on occasion.

I guess I'm a bigger fogy than you.
I had no idea there was anything such as a 'book trailer'.
Bad idea. Bad.

Books are, and always will be, the best.

writtenwyrdd said...

Book trailers are total gagfests. What a waste of time! I want the backmatter! I want to read a bit of the beginning! Movie trailers are at least relevant to the genre, and book trailers aren't.

Leigh Russell said...

I warmed towards you more than ever when I read those words: 'old fogy' (fogey?), 'curmudgeon', and 'luddite', even A**h**e - they could all be me. So I was concerned when you went on to slate 'book trailers'. First of all, let me confess, I don't know what a book trailer is. I hope you're not referring to authors who have heroically read a short extract of their work without giggling, where none of the author's family appear in the background pulling faces, where no elbow inadvertantly pokes in the author's ear as she struggles with her performance, and she doesn't fall off her stool - all of which takes some doing, I can tell you. Is posting such an achievement on youtube the same as a 'book trailer'? If so, I can only say - don't look me up on youtube. I'm there, and proud that I kept a straight face - but not on the first attempt, or the second . . . It was really just a bit of fun. Then again, maybe I'm 'young and hip' . . . (due for a hip replacement, more like . . .)

Miladysa said...


Well I have a one such trailer for Refuge of Delayed Souls - you can have a laugh here:

I really enjoyed putting it together and I did so because I write the story online (weblit) and a lot of readers today enjoy/expect them.

Artwork, music, video etc. is becoming part and parcel of the online reading experience.

I suppose the book trailer for weblit is in some respects the online version of the cover experience in the dead tree publishing world.

ivan said...

There are no more old fogeys.

We were all forced to be hip at aboout the time of the Beats. Our interest in pop music seems to last forever. The Sixties brought rebellion and the yippie-dippie dropouts that some of us were. The drugs are still around. If anything the culture had recently turned old fogey with the Bushy attitudes. But technology has forced us to be hip again.
There is the distinction, however between being hip and being smart.
Hip is druggy and self destructive.
Smart is timeless and lasts forever.
Anyway, some thoughts from and old fogey still somehow into hipsterdom.
Maybe it came from having taught the young.
Trying to tell them that smart was timeless.
Hip makes you dopey. Why do you think they call it that? :)

Rick said...

I'm the same way, Charles. I have cable TV for the cat (she liked the sci-fi channel), but I only see it in passing. What bothers me about it, I think, is the huge element of consumerism embedded into every aspect of the media. Whether it's cans of Pepsi displayed "randomly" during a movie or the controlling background music (as though we can't experience and mood shifts without a song from the eighties being played to re-enforce how we should feel), it's just painful to experience. And now book trailers???

WH said...

Book trailers betray the entire anticipation of opening the cover to the first page, Charles. And for the record, I am a fogey--and fast becoming a luddite.

Leigh Russell said...

I'm still not sure what a book trailer is . . . I'm usually asked to read a short extract from my book whenever I give a talk. We filmed this on my daughter's computer and posted it on youtube. I'm very pleased with it, (mainly because it's quite flattering - bit of a blurry picture!) like reading to an audience but it can reach more people. Is that a book trailer?

Natasha Fondren said...

I love TV and movies (although I hate incessant, background TV like mad), but I very much dislike book trailers. Frankly, most of them suck. Even the ones that don't take at least 30 seconds to tell me what the book is about, and that's TOO LONG.

Not to mention, half the time I cannot turn my sound on when I'm browsing the internet, and the other half I have MY music in my earphones.

And finally, I'll only watched if pressured and guilted into it. Half the time, I just read other comments and make the same comment, rather than watch the thing. I just don't have the attention span for them.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I agree with you. Those James Patterson ads and a few others I just don't like. Of course, they're not the kind of genre I read anyway. I just think it's cheesy. If it's a book, I want a blurb or the back cover copy. If it's a movie or tv show, I want a trailer and blurb or something. But I need the written.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I agree with you. Those James Patterson ads and a few others I just don't like. Of course, they're not the kind of genre I read anyway. I just think it's cheesy. If it's a book, I want a blurb or the back cover copy. If it's a movie or tv show, I want a trailer and blurb or something. But I need the written.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, I like jacket copy myself, but the trailers seem to take the power out of the jacket copy and be really distracting most of the time. We're on the same page.

Gaston Studio, a lot of movie trailers these days give away far too much. I typically prefer not to see them before watching movies, although occassionally one will convince me to try a film.

Pattinase, indeed. Movie trailers have ruined some things for me that I might otherwise have liked. The trailer for District 9 convinced me not to bother, but I've heard enough from other folks now that I'll probably watch it. The trailer didn't convince me though. Quite the contrary.

Richard Prosch, exactly. Especially the scary movies where all the scares are in the trailer.

Laughingwolf, I don't mind an occassional show and will watch it if I have it but I don't feel the need for it certainly.

Gabby, it's become the "in thing" it seems and I guess for writers trying to get their name out there maybe it helps with some folks. But I don't see the payoff for the effort myself.

Jean, I was amazed to learn about book trailers about a year ago. I at first thought it was a joke.

Writtenwyrd, exactly as I would have said it.

Leigh Russell, what you're talking about is just a video of an author reading from their book. I don't mind those. A book trailer is like a movie trailer for a book. Some are elaborate and tell mini-movies almost. Others are just some images thrown up about the book with music in the background and maybe some wording. they vary in quality but the whole idea just seems weird to me.

Miladysa, from the point of view of the one who puts a trailer together I could kind of see the interest. It might be a challenge, and as I said, younger readers might really appreciate these. I think folks writing YA stuff might be on the right track particularly in producing trailers. But as an old fogy I just generally don't get the concept very clearly.

Ivan, I'm so unhip (or smart) I don't even know the proper use of the terms. I find myself less and less interested in what my students are interested in, but in some ways I'm still much more childlike in my ability to experience wonder than a lot of my students.

Rick, I know, if I hear the "eye of the Tiger" type riff one more time in a movie to tell me some aggression is about to take place I may go all Team America on someone.

Billy, I'm more and more of a luddite every day. Even when I have something like a cell phone, I don't use it for any of the fancy stuff. I people on it.

Natasha, I usually have music going myself too and that's one reason I don't typically listen to a lot of videos online that people post. And the trailers, yeah, I could read the back cover blurb and make a decision about whether I wanted to know more a long time before any of the trailers would be over.

Steve Malley said...

Book trailers strike me as one of those attempts to lure folks from screens back to books-- probably not a successful attempt, but an attempt all the same. And with publishers so anxious to recover those dwindling readers, they're trying just about anything.

Because that's always the One Big Problem in publishing: nobody has any clue about what works! If they did, every book published would be a Da Vinci Code-level hit. Instead, we all just try our best and cross our fingers and go sign copies in bookstores and twitter our lunch menus and do virtual blogtours and make little two minute mini-movies about our books.

We all just hope it'll help...

Charles Gramlich said...

Rachel, the James Patterson ones are examples of ones that really turn me off.

Steve Malley, that's why I think it might help with YA type books. Of course, after I saw how many readers loved The Da Vinci code while many writers did not, I had to start thinking that I as a writer am at least not in very good touch with the audience I want to reach.

j said...

What I like about your blog is that you make me think of things that I haven't considered before. After a bit of consideration, I don't think I care for them either. If they spoil the book as much as movie trailer spoil movies, I am definitely anti book trailer.

Your name came up in conversation today. My daughter asked me a question about fan fiction. See? Your blog had educated me about that too!

G. B. Miller said...

Book trailer....never even understood the concept of one until I happened to see one elsewhere on a fave blog of mine.

While the one I saw was a nifty little video, it certainly ain't gonna make me buy it.

ivan said...


Why does that resonate with me?
You poor writer, you.

Angie said...

I usually refer to myself as a crotchety old broad when such topics come up; I think that's close enough to a fogey. [wry smile]

As a data point, I don't like book trailers either. I do like movies and TV shows, but a book is neither a movie nor a TV show. A book is a collection of words in rows, meant to be read. A movie or TV show is a series of images, usually with sound, meant to be watched and heard.

Trailers work for movies because a trailer gives you a sample of the experience you'll get watching the movie. An excerpt from a book gives you a sample of the experience you'll get reading the book. A movie-type trailer used to persuade someone to buy a book makes no sense whatsoever to me. [shrug]


Tyhitia Green said...

Well, Charles, I'm young and I don't like the book trailers either. ;-) I'm really not fond of technology. :-D Seriously.

cs harris said...

I walked through the electronic gadgets section at Best Buy the other day and really came out feeling like an old fogey, so I know what you mean. I do dislike book trailers that have little scenes from the book acted out; I've never seen one of those that wasn't bad to awful. But I have seen some trailers that I thought were good. Here's one:
That said, I've read this guy's work and, well, don't take my admiration of his book trailer as a recommendation of his books!

Also, think about how much money this little trailer must have cost. I've looked into them and I'm guessing this one came it at between $10,000 and 20,000.

Erik Donald France said...

Have to admit, I've never experienced a book trailer, unless it was some hokey radio ad for a blockbuster mystery or melodrama.

However, to me books and movies are pretty seamless as to reading or watching them. I enjoy both kinds of experiences, but rarely see movies at theatres any more. Seems like 95% of them look bad anyway. Books -- another matter. There will never be time to read more than a sampling, no matter how good they are, in a lifetime. Unless Heaven's the place where it can be done at leisure?

X. Dell said...

(1) I know what the term 'fogy' means. It's just that I haven't heard it since 1968. Guess that makes me an old fogy.

(2) I see the trailers as simply one more marketing tool. A lot of fiction these days is pretty formulaic. It follows an industrial model of production and consumption. Trailers are simply a natural consequence of an industry shaped as the current publishing is.

(3) Sure you can be comfortable in your foginess since your Saints are 4-0.

Cloudia said...

You are forthright and worth reading, Fogy!

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Lana Gramlich said...

You can be an old fogey if I get to be crotchety in my middle age. <:\

the walking man said...

I think a book trailer is an attempt to package a corporate success which alone makes me not interested. The world has enough Britney's and corporate enhanced mouseketeers already.

Mona said...

never heard the fogy reference before!

I absolutely agree about the trailers and the movies. I hate movie form of any book written. I love to read with exercising my own imagination. Besides a movie can never say it all as well as a book does!

sage said...

I thought being a fogy had something to do with the amount of medicine and skin cream on the bathroom counter and nothing to do with likes or dislikes to book trailers (as for my smart-ass answer: you're an academic, just think of 'em as a synopsis)

Vesper said...

Let me, too, be an old fogy with you, Charles, if that's what this is. :-) I've barely heard of book trailers and never watched one. I think it's an idea fit for the times we live in - shallow, greedy. I don't watch TV, only films every now and then. And the books, I like to hold them in my hands, even though I cry for the trees.

Lisa said...

I hate being sold. used to have (they probably still do) book forums and ratings and I got to all my good books through the recommendation of others based on my original interest.

Now I enjoy going to the bookstore and picking up books and taking them home like a bag of candies. I judge the books by their covers :)

Charles Gramlich said...

jennifer, And I've learned much about Thrifty Thursdays from your blog. I only found out about book trailers about a year ago myself.

G, I can see them as a type of expression on their own but I just can't wrap my head around how they have anything to do with books.

ivan, I've had to learn to curb my enthusiasm over the years because most folks don't seem to have much passion.

Angie, I think you made a very good point. The movie trailer is a similar experience to watching a movie, even if it isn't great, but a book trailer doesn't have anything to do with the experience of reading a book really. Well said.

Demon Hunter, you are either wise beyond your years, or are the last gasp of an elder species. I'll go with the first one. ;)

Candy, woah, that's a lot of dough for a book trailer. I've heard of some that are very expensive. I wonder if he got a return on his investment.

Erik, ahh, you make heaven sound pretty nice. A long stretch of reading. I'm there. I better start being better.

X. Dell, yeah, a winning football team covers up a lot of sins. I know book trailers are just another marketing tool and I don't really begrudge folks trying new things to sell a product. I just don't find that they work for me. But the world is becoming more and more multimedia and mixed media driven so it'll soon be old hat, I guess.

Cloudia, thanks. I'm glad my fogyiness hasn't driven you away.

Lana Gramlich, what do you get when you put a fogy and a crotchety together? US. awwwwwwwwwwhhhhhh

Mark, I just started reading a book on the McDonaldization of society which is about that topic. Kind of frightening.

Mona, I'm definitely a fan of books over movies, although I think movies can tell fun stories at times and there's nothing wrong with them. I just usually don't enjoy those stories as much as what I'm reading. Thanks for dropping by.

sage, hum, maybe that's why I've always had trouble writing a synopsis. I never thought about that before. You may have hit on something there.

Vesper, I'm very tactile where books are concerned too. and visual in the sense of liking to see them lined up on my shelves.

Ocean Girl, I'm the same way about being sold, and that's one reason I'm not a good salesperson myself. I hate to try to do to others what I don't want done to me. I get recommendations from folks I trust too, and do a lot of browsing to decide on books I want to read.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I've seen book trailers, and I understand they are an up'n'coming thing.

But I agree with your fogy-ness - I just don't understand them and they don't really appeal to me.

Heff said...

Don't we ALL eventually end up in the "old fogy" category ?

Randy Johnson said...

I'm with you on the old fogey business. I've seen a few book trailers and can honestly say they never influenced me one way or the other. Just not intersted in them.

On the luddite front, I'm in the front rank. Except for my computer, I have no cell phone, blackberry, Mp3 Player, none of the latest gadgets. I revolved away from vinyl long after everything else. Same for cassettes and video tape. I like new innovations, but am just slow to adapt to them. I see no reason to rush.

Middle Ditch said...

Another old fogey here Charles but my pet hate is movie trailers. I see those blithering trailers and I have seen the movie, full stop. To apply this to a book is just appalling.

Greg said...

i'm right there with you. very rarely is the movie version of a book better than the book itself, and making a trailer is too much like making the book into a movie. the only trailer i've seen and liked is the one for Zombie Haiku, because it was done in an interesting way -- a zombie walking down the street, reading the haikus, while other zombies around him were getting shot and killed.

Mary Witzl said...

This made me laugh.

I told a colleague I was a Luddite today and she didn't know what I meant. Which made me feel even more old-fogy-ish (you bet I know what that is). I don't read trailers either and I don't jazz my blog up with pretty pictures. I'm in this for the words too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul R. McNamee, seems like there are still quite a lot of us fogys out there.

Heff, I suspect so, but not all of us embrace it as I have. :)

Randy Johnson, I'm much like you. I don't reject new technology. I just don't see any reason to rush into it, and I don't think necessarily that the new way is better. For example, data sticks are not as efficient as 3 1/4 inch disks used to be. It takes more clicks to use them than it did the disks.

Middle Ditch, it's a rare movie trailer that will make me "want' to see a movie. But at least they are in the same general type of media. Book trailers are completely different from the reading experience. At least for now.

Greg Schwartz, I have seen some trailers that were kind of funny in themselves, but the relationship to the books themselves is questionable.

Mary Witzl, the words are the key thing to me. They are incredible efficient, though not perfect, in conveying information. I think we focus more and more on viusal presentation of material to our detriment.

BernardL said...

I'm definitely a curmudgeon, but I do have the cables hooked up so I can watch either a DVD or Tape without much exercise other than sticking it in. :)

Travis Erwin said...

As a reader and a consumer I think they are a waste of time, money and effort, since I ignore them, but as a desperate writer willing to do anything I wonder if I am alone or they really do have a place.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen a book trailer- I'm intrigued!

LoveRundle said...

I don't really watch television anymore, but movies, once in a while. I've seen a few book trailers, some are setup just like a review for a movie. They're interesting, but I don't think I'd ever spend the money to have one made and I definitely don't have the patience to make one myself.

Charles Gramlich said...

BernardL, my son set mine up like that last time he was out. I haven't used it yet.

Travis Erwin, I think they may well reach a certain segment of the population. I'd like to see if anyone has any statistics on them.

Cinnamon, Barrie Summy on my links list has some links to some trailers. And I know there are others around on the web.

Christina, some of the bigger fancier ones are very expensive. I know they ran some for James Patterson books on TV.

jodi said...

Hey Charles, As we become older, we DO become wiser.(ithink) I too love the unchartered surprise of a book. Save the book trailers. I can't believe you like Harris--so do I! You are not a curmudgeon, just old skool!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, I hope I'm becoming wiser. And by Harris, if you mean C. S. Harris, I do. I actually know her and meet with her once a week in my wriiting group!

Anndi said...

I've never watched a book trailer... hmmmm...

Travis Cody said...

Book trailers? I never heard of such a thing. Put me on the fogey list too.

Books have dust jackets. Movies have trailers.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Charles I wouldn't call you an old fogy. I totally understand your opinion. But I do like some trailers - I think cause I'm very visual. but many are just terrible and do more harm than good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Anndi, you should take a gander just to see what you think.

Travis, book trailers are becoming all the rage, my friend.

Ello, that's probably the thing. There are many out there but not many that are well done.