Can video save the literary star?

Interesting, from the NY Times:

March 21, 2007

Favorite Author Not on Tour? See the Movie
By JULIE BOSMAN

Can video save the literary star?

Ask the tastemakers at Powell’s Books, the venerable independent bookstore in Portland, Ore., who are planning a new series of short films featuring authors, to be shown at bookstores, movie-premiere style.

The British author Ian McEwan is the star of the first film, which is planned to run 23 minutes and will feature snippets from an on-camera interview with Mr. McEwan, as well as commentary from peers, fans and critics.

Such films could eventually take the place of in-store book readings, which attract fewer attendees all the time, many booksellers say. “Some authors go to events and are really captivating personalities,” said Dave Weich, the marketing manager at Powell’s Books. “That does not describe most of them.”

For Mr. McEwan, the film will virtually replace his standard book tour, since he has declined to do traditional bookstore appearances to promote his new novel in the United States. The book, “On Chesil Beach,” will be published on June 5 by the Nan A. Talese imprint of Random House’s Doubleday division.

For years publishers and bookstores have tried to lure book buyers by featuring authors in blogs, podcasts and question-and-answer forums with readers. Mr. Weich said Powell’s did not expect to profit from the first film but hoped to attract more visitors to its Web site, powells.com, by posting the videos there.

Powell’s has enlisted Doug Biro, a former creative director at RCA Records, to direct the first film. (Mr. Biro has also directed music videos for Christina Aguilera and Rufus Wainwright.) It will have its debut on June 1 in Manhattan during BookExpo America, a widely attended annual gathering of publishers, booksellers and authors.

More than 50 bookstores across the country have planned screenings of the film from June 13 to 17. After it is shown, the video will be posted on Powell’s Web site and as a series of shorts on YouTube.

Mr. Weich said he hoped the series, called “Out of the Book,” would defy the less than exciting fare typical of television and films featuring authors. “It’s meant to be entertaining,” he said. “The last thing we’re shooting for is two talking heads sitting there talking about literature.”

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