Trailers can build a buzz for a movie but what can they do for books? Well, as Jesse Baker reports, the publishing industry is trying to find out.

JESSE BAKER: This is not a film coming to a theater near you, but it sure sounds like it.

(Soundbite of book trailer)

Unidentified Man #1: Im getting no every other call, all the odd-numbered ones starting with this one. Obvious really.

Unidentified Man #2: And his wife is the boss of Pam.

Unidentified Woman #1: Shes one of those women that burns calories just by breathing. I should be jealous, really, but I cant be. I must be a very nice person; chubby but nice.

BAKER: Its not promoting a movie, its promoting Matt Beaumonts novel "Small World." Books trailers are tailored-made film shorts to lure potential readers into bookstores.

Ms. SHEILA CLOVER: Movie trailers work for movies. Maybe Ill do something for books.

BAKER: Thats Sheila Clover. Clover can trace her roots in the book trailer industry back to 2002. Then, she was an aspiring writer, looking for some way to make her book stand out. She thought, why not a book trailer?

Ms. CLOVER: When I first Googled the term back in 2002, it wasnt there. You know, there was nothing there, which is funny if you Google it now.

BAKER: Clover saw an opportunity there and went for it. Her company, Circle of Seven Productions, is now one of many where authors and publishing houses commission trailers to market their work.

Trailers are not meant to be cinematic versions of the book they advertise. More, theyre an attempt to catch your eye in hopes youll remember the authors name or at least the title of their book.

(Soundbite of book trailer)

Mr. SETH GREENLAND: My name is Seth Greenland, and Ive written a new novel called "Shining City." Its set in Los Angeles, so naturally it begins in a hot tub with a pimp and three hookers.

BAKER: Book trailers have become standard operating procedure in the world of publishing, on display at publisher and retail websites, and of course on YouTube.

Lisa Gallagher is a senior vice president and publisher at William Morrow.

Ms. LISA GALLAGHER (William Morrow): Were trying to put these videos in front of potential readers in the hope that they will be interested enough to pick up the book. And we really cant forget thats the ultimate goal.

BAKER: So while you might see some of the more highly produced samples in a theater before a movie, youre most likely to find these trailers online.

(Soundbite of book trailer)

Unidentified Woman #2: I, Root Karbunkulus, am invited to participate in the first magisterial treasure quest of DreAmm.

BAKER: The publishing industry has seen the success of viral videos and theyre looking to get in on a little of that action themselves. In order to stand out from all of the outrageous things on YouTube, authors have to make their videos pop.

Again, Lisa Gallagher.

Ms. GALLAGHER: It means that our videos have to be compelling. They cant be - you know, they cant be poorly produced, otherwise theres no real point to doing them.

BAKER: But not all trailers are compelling and not all are authorized by authors or publishing companies. This trailer was made for a school project about "The Catcher in the Rye."

(Soundbite of book trailer)

Unidentified Man #3: See, thats the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if theyre not much to look at, or even if theyre sort of stupid, you always fall half in love with them.

BAKER: Some trailers use a dramatic voiceover, but most rely on pulsating music and pretty fonts to push the books. Author Alexandra Sokoloff says shell never try to market another book again without a trailer.

Ms. ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF (Author): Theres a certain audience - like the paranormal romance audience - expects a trailer at this point. Theyve seen them from their favorite authors, and they expect to have a trailer so they can check out the book.

BAKER: Its not only publishing companies and high school English teachers that are taking this seriously. Last year, Oscar-nominated director Alfonso Cuaron made a trailer for Naomi Kleins "The Shock Doctrine."

(Soundbite of book trailer)

Unidentified Woman #3: And the best way to stay oriented, to resist shock, is to know what is happening to you and why.

BAKER: For NPR News, Im Jesse Baker.

BLOCK: And you can watch these book trailers at

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