Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When You Wish Upon A Star ...

Yesterday afternoon, while driving home from work I herd an interesting story on NPR that made me sit up and listen. You can read it here.

Michael Eisner, the former head honcho at Disney has started a new production company called Vuguru. Here is a description of the company straight from their website ...

Vuguru is a new media studio for Michael Eisner's The Tornante Company. The studio produces and distributes innovative story-driven content for current new media and emerging platforms

The company's current project is a series of fifty, 2 minute video clips based upon the prequel of an upcoming Robin Cook novel titled Foreign Body. Eisner's company is telling the story before the story so to speak. The NPR story focused on the merging of different medias, internet video and published literature.

My first reaction was excitement. Anything that promotes books and reading is a good thing, right? Now I'm more in the maybe category. According to the interview, Robin Cook thought the project would help bring not only new readers to his work but younger readers on top of that. And he may very well be right, but I'm thinking that will be the case only because of the novelty factor.

Later down the road will non-readers really seek out video clips of prequels and then get excited enough to go out and buy the book? Will these videos create readers or will they merely feed those of us who are already hungry for more of our favorite characters. And will this be just another hurdle for the little guy or the new guy? I'm betting Eisner doesn't produce one of these spots for a guy like me who has yet to find a literary agent or editor who recognizes sheer brilliance. (that's meant to be funny in case any agents or editors actually read this post)

Robin Cook basically invited the medical thriller genre and already has a huge fan base that will no doubt check out the clips, as would Evanovich fans wanting an early look at the next Stephanie Plum novel. King, Grisham, Clancy, Crusie, Weiner, Rowling, Irving. I could list lots of authors that could bring fans in droves to a early teaser. Eisner can bank on their appeal to draw hits and thus increase the cost of advertising on the site, but will this project or idea help the publishing business on the whole or increase the interest in reading thus helping all of us struggling writers. I have my doubts.

Using name brand authors I imagine the company will get enough hits to generate a good amount of ad revenue, but I don't see a great advantage for any author even the big hitters. My guess is most of the viewers will be those who would by Cook's novel anyway. It's like selling pollen to a bee.

Of course, if Mr. Eisner would like to prove how beneficial these videos are to authors, he could really show the world by taking an unknown author ... maybe a big hairy guy from Texas -- and produce a series on some yet to be discovered novel of modern day piracy and human immorality ... maybe one titled Plundered Booty -- and if that turned said author into an overnight sensation ... well, that would prove this idea's merit to the world.

Truly it would.

What do y'all think?

19 comments:

Lisa said...

It would be far more interesting, for sure. I agree with you that additional hype for the multi-million copy best-sellers is probably not going to do much for their sales. But it's all about risk when it's business, right? Now I did once watch a low budget movie -- I think Robert Downey Jr. may have produced it -- that was an adaptation of some self-pubbed book he found in a used bookstore. The featurette showed them laughing about how it was really pretty poorly written, but it was a good story and so it became a movie. A one in a million shot, but these miracles do happen now and then. :)

Monnik said...

maybe I'm too old school, but the video clip and book combination seems odd to me (what happens if the book turns into a movie later on - are you stuck with the actors in the video clips?) and yes, probably more suited to bestsellers than to new authors.

But - I've been known to be wrong. You should have heard me four years ago. "Blogosphere? That'll never take off..."

Therese said...

Odd, innovative, interesting--but useful for any but the best-known authors? Probably not.

And what's with that name? Vuguru sounds like one of those Eastern European mini cars...

Patti said...

well, if he also takes a scrawny beer drinking running gal along with the hairy dude, i think it is a fine idea...

debra said...

I heard the story on NPR yesterday. What concerns me is the Disney-ing up (as my daughters say) of a good story.

Rocketstar said...

We are a video world I am afraid. Print media is slowly losing readership and it will only grow in that direction.

Barbara Martin said...

We could write a letter to Mr. Eisner on your behalf Travis, so you could have a chance at stardom. You never know until you try. I've been known to write strong letters for a cause.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Obviously someone needs to write the man a letter and whet his appetite for Plundered Booty. I think the book title alone would generate interest from all kinds of curiosity seekers...

Melissa Marsh said...

I don't know...I'm not a big fan of book trailer videos. I think we can do TOO much with all the new media we have. Of course, I may think differently once I have that publishing contract in hand. ;-)

Bubblewench said...

I think that is quite an interesting concept, I'm curious to see how it pans out.

I'm for the big hairy guy in Texas getting a shot though.. wonder how to go about getting it???

alex keto said...

Travis

Where do we start?
First the name of the company, Vuguru sounds like a drunk trying to say Viagra and I don't suppose drunks, Viagra and all the rest is really what Eisner wants the world to think about even if he is pretty much a prick.
Now for the idea itself.
This is called flailing at winds of change with both arms. The newspaper business went through this same sort of thing with all sorts of neato ideas designed to... well, we never did find out what. But whatever they were, it didn't work.

Let's look at the premise: Eisner wants to get people who can't relate to books to relate to books by showing them a story in their favorite media, video. Hmmmm, haven't we already done this? Isn't it called "movies?"

But the good news is that Disney's corporate board of lick spittles, butt boys and lackeys will proudly vote good old Mike another $100 million bonus for his brlliance.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post just had a story about how women in Bangladesh get paid $1.25 a day to sew Disney embroidery onto T-shirts and jeans for the company.

Let's get real: Disney makes its money out these women and not through its own brilliance.

Mom In Scrubs said...

As a reader, not an author, this idea appeals to me NOT ONE IOTA. I don't want some video clip to taint the story I am about to read. I don't want to be stuck with someone else's images of the characters, settings, voices, etc. It's the same reason I rarely ever see a movie based on a book without reading the book first. Then, and only then, I am free to be entertained and amused at how someone else's version of what I read was SO different than what I came up with myself.

I want to approach a new read as a clean slate, a newborn babe, not with any preconceived notions. That, my friend, takes all the fun out of it for me.

alex keto said...

Travis

Where do we start?
First the name of the company, Vuguru sounds like a drunk trying to say Viagra and I don't suppose drunks, Viagra and all the rest is really what Eisner wants the world to think about even if he is pretty much a prick.
Now for the idea itself.
This is called flailing at winds of change with both arms. The newspaper business went through this same sort of thing with all sorts of neato ideas designed to... well, we never did find out what. But whatever they were, it didn't work.

Let's look at the premise: Eisner wants to get people who can't relate to books to relate to books by showing them a story in their favorite media, video. Hmmmm, haven't we already done this? Isn't it called "movies?"

But the good news is that Disney's corporate board of lick spittles, butt boys and lackeys will proudly vote good old Mike another $100 million bonus for his brlliance.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post just had a story about how women in Bangladesh get paid $1.25 a day to sew Disney embroidery onto T-shirts and jeans for the company.

Let's get real: Disney makes its money out these women and not through its own brilliance.

alex keto said...

Glancing back at your post, I see Eisner no longer works for the rat and in my comment I said he did.

Facts are just road kill when I'm on a rant

WordVixen said...

It's an interesting idea. It also would probably reach more young viewers/readers in the same way the "whathappensnext.com" commercials do. But, I don't think it's really such a hot idea for unknowns, mid-listers, and niche authors.

Then again, while I appreciated Eisner's devotion to Disney when he worked for them, he really was a crap leader. Seriously- he was the one behind all of those horrible direct to DVD sequels. That does not bode well for his new company.

ChrisEldin said...

It's interesting Travis.
It doesn't sound too exciting, from my POV. I just buy the book and read it. And if I'm really excited, I'll google the author.

I don't think I have the time to do that other bit. I wonder though, if there is something else....

Mama P said...

Didn't you know that to get a shot at the biz you have to be a fat hairy guy from New York or L.A.? Don't contact me, I'll contact you.

Bernita said...

"but I don't see a great advantage for any author even the big hitters."
I agree.

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