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Booktalking 2.0 (2.0)

A couple of weeks ago my post on Booktalking 2.0 grew too long. I was able to include the more traditional podcast booktalks and promised to later discuss another emerging strategy for promoting books digitally. So let’s explore book trailers, video book trailers, vidlit, or digital video booktalks in this post.  (Note: several of these terms are now registered trademarks, making it difficult to label these efforts. The term book trailer, for instance, is registered to Circle of Seven Productions.)

So, what is the value of these video book teasers?

For authors and publishers these videos present potential new ways to promote and sell books.

Librarians can use these resources to enhance our booktalks and promote titles in a more media-rich way. We can link to already produced videos in our catalogs, our online reading lists, and our pathfinders. We can use them to inspire students to create and contribute their own videos.

These videos are not all that hard to produce. Simply show some of the following examples to student readers who also know how to use such free or inexpensive production tools as: iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, GarageBand, VoiceThread, or Final Cut. Remind those students to use copyright-friendly images, sound, and video. Better yet, ask them to create their own. Ask them to share their storyboards as they plan their work. Post these efforts on your own site or to share them on YouTube or TeacherTube or GoogleVideo.

First let’s explore some noncommercial projects.

The University of Central Florida offers Digital Booktalk. The site and its activities are the result of

collaborative efforts between UCF’s Educational Technology Program in the College of Education and the Digital Media Division in the College of Arts and Humanities and is based on research as to how prospective readers select, read, and complete books they read.

Larry Bedenbaugh, Coordinator of Information Services for the Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence (FLaRE) Center offers digital booktalking as an activity for undergrad tech ed students.

The live-action UCF titles range from reading list classics to hot new favorites. Among them: 1984, Drive By, Esperanza Rising, Fahrenheit 451, Fat Kid Rules the World, Gospel According to Larry, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Lord of the Flies, Monster, Moonlight Becomes You, My Sister’s Keeper, Nickel and Dimed, or Not Getting By in America, and Twilight.

Tucson-Pima Public Library Teen Summer Reading Program produced its Teen Trailers in collaboration with a local television station. The project is described on the YALSA website.  Last year’s Tucson-Pima titles were: Cut by Patricia McCormick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli, and Hangman’s Curse by Frank Peretti.  This year’s videos are in post- production.  Look for them soon.

My own students produced book videos for Rand’s Anthem, Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Search for more examples of student and teacher efforts on YouTube and TeacherTube.

Moving toward the somewhat commercial, those efforts clearly aimed at promoting purchase:

KidVidLit videos are designed for parents and kids to view together and designed to

whet the appetite of young readers in the same way a movie trailer makes the viewer want to see a movie. The aim is to jump-start young readers. A chapter, a summary or a few pages of a young reader’s book comes to life with sound, music, and slide-show animation, enhanced by words on the screen used as graphic images. It’s simple and non-threatening. It makes the child want to finish the story by reading the book and using his or her own imagination.

Among the titles currently featured are Meg Cabots works (her daily schedule), Nana Star, by Linda Saker, and Bone by Jeff Smith.

Adult and young adult book trailers are featured on VidLit.  Among the YA titles are:  The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson and Making It Out Alive Only the Strong! 4 Tales of High School Survival by Mark Grashow,

Book Standard’s 2006 Teen Book Video Awards posted the three winners of last year’s contest which asked young adult (in this case, college student) producers to promote popular titles.

The live action trailers for Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now provide wonderful booktalk fodder and serve as models for future student films. The site is soliciting new student and school participation.

The 2006 Picture Book Video Awards,  features David Wiesner’s Caldecott winner, Flotsam.

HarperCollins Canada now features 13 new book trailers, most adult, some appropriate for young adults, along with book and author information. Among the titles are Saving Planet Earth by Tony Juniper, Run by Ann Patchett, The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket, and The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien (recreated by Christopher Tolkien).

In the publishing world, the jury seems to be out as to whether or not book trailers actually help sell books. Some publishers are producing trailers. Some authors are hiring companies to produce trailers. Some authors produce their own.

Librarians can exploit these efforts to sell books in our own ways.  We can use them as models to inspire new student projects that celebrate reading.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. DANIEL KIELY says:

    Thanks for the great list of book trailers Joyce! I saw a great one for The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl on VidLit last year. I am excited that the genre is alive and growing. I have already shared links with my students.

  2. Robert Kenny says:

    Just for the record, Digital Booktalk is a term I coined back in 2002 at the University of Florida. We were one of the originators of the idea to use the trailers for K-12 schools… Larry Bedenbaugh comments were at a conference where he was describing our efforts. Thanks for this article , we are receiving approximately 200 hits per day on the site now.

  3. Glenda Gunter says:

    Dr. Larry Bedenbaugh does a super job with our undergraduates at UCF. We also create Digital Booktalk projects in all Educational Technology course based on Drs. Robert Kenny’s and Glenda Gunter’s research and curriculum developed after Dr. Kenny coined the term and started a fantastic project at UCF over six years ago.

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