Saturday, June 16, 2007

There ... But Not There

If you want to sell your book, you have to promote it. But, it seems, the author's tour may be a thing of the past.

Ian McEwan is doing a tour of the US to promote his latest book On Chesil Beach. Only ... he's not going to be there himself.

Bob Thompson in the Washington Post reports that independent booksellers Powell's Books has come up with the idea of making a high-grade film (part of which is viewable with the article) of the author reading from and talking about his book, and of building events around that. McEwan's film will be shown at 54 other screenings around the country, mainly, but not exclusively in bookstores, with discussion being lead in some cases by other local novelists.

Wouldn't it be great if McEwan's film, and other author films when they are made, could be shown in bookshops here? We are so starved for author visits, and Malaysia is an awful long way to fly someone to read to us.

Another way for an author to appear without actually appearing is, of course, by video link. We enjoyed a run of those at the British Council a couple of years back when a tiny group of hardened bibliophiles were able to interact with Toby Litt, Beryl Bainbridge and David Lodge.

And nowadays an author can even sign books from half a world away by using the LongPen - (something I thought was a hilarious joke when Margaret Atwood came up with the idea!)

Which is how Norman Mailer (incapacitated by "age, asthma and athritis") will be appearing ... but not appearing ... at the Edinburgh Festival this year and signing books for his fans. And Atwood will be interviewing (again by video link) legendary Canadian short story writer Joyce Carol Oates who will also sign books.

In fact a whole list of famous authors have used the LongPen saving (as the promotional website for the device reminds us) over 30 million tons of carbon emissions!

9 comments:

sympozium said...

Loses the personal touch provided by the actual presence of an author. Which are you going to remember in years to come:

a)Oh, yeah, I was there when they showed the movie clip about Ian McEwan; I was there when the machine signed my book; or

b) I was at the talk given by Ian McEwan and he was so funny, taking in questions from the audience/ Atwood signed my book and gave me encouragement about my writing...

bibliobibuli said...

yes of course you're right. but what if an author can't actually be there? like poor old norman mailer for e.g? do we never get to hear him?

i have not met toby litt, beryl bainbridge or david lodge but the video link up was superb, and because it made a conversation possible very memorable. i made beryl laugh!! toby litt dubbed leon his perfect reader. who can forget these moments even though the protagonists are miles apart.

fess up now sypm, wouldn't you like to see the mecewan show?

sympozium said...

I'd prefer a live webcast...the video show is a bit too manufactured lah...
Oh, Kiran D siging books this afternoon at the book fair I told you about but I'm only going tomorrow...

sympozium said...

Some of the authors should/could actually insert a short video of them talking about their books together with their books sold in shops...it wouldn't cost much more to add a CD-R into the book anyway...Or even a short audio clip of them reading something from the book...I'd do it but my publishers don't have the budget!

Chet said...

Short audio clip - that would be a good teaser / advertisement for the audiobook to come.

bibliobibuli said...

sympozium - youtube it! then the world (inc me) can link to it. nice if you could film it "on location" so to speak ...

lil ms d said...

aiyo banyaknya kerja... cant writers just be old fashioned? this sounds like alot of work. yes i am lazy.

Tunku Halim said...

Thanks for this Sharon. This has got me thinking . . .

Matthew da Silva said...

powell's idea is brilliant, IMHO. In younger days I'd got to the Harold park Hotel in Glebe onTuesday nights for poetry readins. They're no longer run. But any exposure of the author's 'person' (possibly with eighteenth-century overtones, here, he he) is welcome. Fans crave contact.