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Arts and Culture

Watching Books Online

VIDEO: What's wrong when I spend more time viewing trailers than reading?

By Doretta Lau 15 Jul 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Doretta Lau writes regularly about Internet video for The Tyee.

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Has the literary experience taken over?

Somehow, despite being a video-watching nerd and a bookworm, I hadn't seen a single book trailer (a.k.a. Internet commercial for a literary text) until a few days ago. I was reading The New York Times Sunday Book Review piece on Toronto-born M.D. Rivka Galchen's debut novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, when I noticed a link to a trailer for the book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43eIV2Kp3bs. The link brought me to this video, posted by HarperCollins Canada:

The book trailer convinced me that the novel might be the heartbreaking work of staggering genius I've been looking for all summer. I find it hard to resist a narrative that begins: "Last December a woman entered my apartment who looked exactly like my wife."

While I was on YouTube watching the trailer, I noticed an interview with Galchen under "Related Videos," and watched it as well. The end of that video prompted me to visit the novel's charming official website. Then I went to Amazon to read customer reviews and order the book.

After spending about half an hour clicking links, it struck me that I had spent more time consuming electronic media about the book than I had yet spent reading the published text itself. I began feeling nostalgic for the time I devoted exclusively to books themselves, and not the related ephemera. I love the Internet, but I'm glad the trailer did the job it was supposed to: next week I plan to sit on my back porch, away from my computer, and read Atmospheric Disturbances, on paper, in a leisurely fashion.

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