Friday, September 25, 2009

In which I question the tackiness of book previews...

A few days ago, as I finished The Hollow, I noticed a preview at the back of the book. Now, that's not so unusual. I've seen previews for other books before; Alyson Noël's Immortals series has them, and some of Gail Carson Levine's books do as well. However, there was a difference. While the previews in the Immortals books and Levine's books were for other titles by those authors, the preview in The Hollow was for a book by a different author altogether.

My first thought was that it was just plain tacky. It's advertising, plain and simple. And I'm not used to seeing advertising in books. I'm sure you could argue that these previews are like movie trailers. But I think there's a difference. A movie is very much a collaborative effort, while a novel was created (more or less) by one person: the author. A book is supposed to be the author's time to shine. After many hours of work, their creation is finally released to the public.

But now we've got advertisements for other books inside of novels. It kind of seems like stealing the author's thunder. Even though I didn't enjoy The Hollow, I felt sorry for Jessica Verday after seeing that preview in the back of her book. Here's a debut author who's just released her first novel. It's quite an accomplishment. And yet, there's this subtle message sent by the inclusion of the preview that this novel is not quite enough on its own. At least, that's how I felt.

Jessica Verday appears to be quite a fan of the author whose preview appears in her book, and that may be why it was included. But what about another first-time author whose book gets a preview stuck into it... a preview by an author whose books they don't like? I can only imagine how annoyed, disgusted, and hurt I would be if I wrote a novel and the publisher decided to include an exerpt from, say, Stephenie Meyer's latest book.

From the publisher's point of view, previews are probably a good thing. But from the writer's point of view? I'm not sure how happy many of them would be with some other author's writing cluttering up what is supposed to be their creative work.

What do you think? Are previews for books by other authors a good idea? Or are they just tacky?


  1. I'm not a fan of previews for books by other authors in an author's book... I feel like that space should be for the author's upcoming projects. I feel like it's stealing their thunder too.

  2. They should market themselves on their book -- not someone else!

  3. I remember very much disliking previews in the Shopaholic books. Not necessarily because I thought it was tacky, just misleading. When I was coming close to the end of the book I thought I still had a lot more of the story to enjoy, because there were still quite a few pages left.

    But no! The story suddenly ended and the remaining pages were filled with a preview of a book I a) was going to read anyway and b) didn't want to spoil by reading part of it ahead of time, or c) had already read.

    I agree with you that *if* there are going to be previews in books they should be promoting work by the same author. But it's still disappointing when a story ends sooner than you were expecting it to.

  4. Ergh, you're right, that is tacky. I don't know how I'd feel about that but, knowing what the publishing industry's like, I can't imagine Jessica Verday had a choice in the matter unfortunately. I don't think it should be done if it's by another author - you're right, a novel is a writer's tiem to shine - especially if it's a debut novel.

    I'm due to receive Hollow in the mail any day now - I'll have to look out for it.

  5. I LOVE previews.
    For me it is an opportunity to sample a book.
    I am alll about free samples.
    You should see me at a grocery store.

  6. I don't mind the previews. I like getting a glimpse into another book (because when I finish reading the book, I get sad! So the preview actually perks me up, lol)

    But I never thought of it that way and you do make a good point. There's one side of the coin I didn't see!

  7. I agree. I wouldn't want that either, especially with it being my debut novel and all. But I guess that's the publisher's decision.

  8. I don't mind them. I enjoy being exposed to different books and putting a sample at the end of a book is a great way to advertise. As long as the book being advertised is in the same category as the book being read I'm all for it.

    You might find your next favorite author! You never know.