In an unusual promotion for Douglas Coupland‘s new novel, The Gum Thief, publisher Random House Canada approached production company Crush Toronto to make a series of nine short film clips based on the book. The clips, all with narration by Coupland himself, are posted on YouTube (all nine shown above).
“I’ve known Doug’s publicist, Sharon Klein, for a long time,” says Crush creative director Gary Thomas. “Both Sharon and Doug wanted to do something new to help promote Doug’s new book. Doug’s audience is quite internet 2.0 literate and so the opportunity was there to reach his readers in a way that may not have been open to all authors.”
“The book’s structure leant itself to this approach. The narrative is basically divided into the journal entries of Roger, a 40-ish stationery store employee, the correspondence of Bethany, his 20-something co-worker, and Glove Pond, the novel-within-a-novel that Roger is writing. We wanted to do a series of short pieces focusing on the text of the novel. No attempt at a cheesy dramatisation, no author interview, just the text and Doug’s deadpan narration. We also felt that each stream should feel like it had been done by the characters themselves.”
While this is by no means the first time that a publisher has used film as a way of “trailing” a new book (Canongate publishers created an animated short for Life of Pi back in 2002), it is still a rarity in the book world. However, with viral advertising becoming an increasingly mainstream choice within marketing, it seems likely to be a growing trend. “Working this way could work for any book, the same way that record labels made videos for all their artists,” continues Thomas. “Some books, or writers, lend themselves to this medium more naturally than others, but there are lots of creative venues to explore. We think it’s a great way to reach a new generation of people who may not otherwise consider themselves readers.”
The Gum Thief clips can also be viewed online at www.crushinc.com/gum_thief.