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Social Media & The Publishing Business: Thomas Pynchon’s Book Trailer

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Last week I talked about the power of social media campaigns in the media industry. I gave a hat tip to HarperCollins for their successful online video series that profiles authors and upcoming books.

However, HarperCollins isn’t alone.

Penguin Group, for around a year, has had its own Youtube channel in an attempt to work with social media–however, it never attracted attention, feedback, or notice. It all changed last week when they produced a short ‘book trailer’ for famed author Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Inherent Vice, generating over 20,000 views and tons of comments, fans, and hype.

The trailer is voiced by Pynchon himself–giving  potential readers a feel for the author and the tone of the book. The video  is reminiscent of old film noir movies, highlighting the private-eye angle the novel attempts to explore. The short trailer grew in popularity when literature-focused blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages, starred to share and sparked discussion of the video.

This is an early and great example of the power of social media marketing. Now, it’s a question of whether using technology and video to promote novels is a step in the right direction for publishing companies. It’s one thing to create a buzz, but it’s another to invest energy into projects that don’t help produce great books and solid authors.