- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dorchester publishing, the online marketplace for horror, romance and fantasy books, has just announced a contest. Not for those who write books but for “amateur and professional filmmakers who also love books.”

Simply put, the contest Dorchester is sponsoring is for book lovers who can come up with the best “book trailer” based on “their favorite novel in the Shomi series of modern-day fantasy fiction.” Yes, a trailer. That will be shown in movie theaters.

For those of us who believe that contests for “best poems” and “best novels” only lead to heartbreak, here is a chance to fight those odds by picking up a camera and, in visual shorthand, tell a story about a book.

Dorchester has teamed with Circle of Seven Productions and has engaged Stephen King to select a winner. Sponsors aver that “the contest will provide a creative outlet for the filmmakers’ visions while ultimately allowing the winner to showcase his or her talents before a potential audience of tens of millions of people through Circle of Seven’s distribution relationships.”

They add, “Book trailers — which are similar in style, content, and technique to movie trailers — are a powerful and increasingly popular method for communicating why a particular novel or series of novels is a ‘must read.’ ”

My Luddite self rejects the idea of seeing a book trailer in a movie theater. And yet, I am intrigued. The Shomi imprint, described by the publishers as “a groundbreaking line of speculative fiction that combines the best elements of the fantasy, thriller, science fiction, cyberpunk, and romance genres” is a natural for this sort of thing.” They compare Shomi books to the movies “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix.”

So I wonder, what are the possibilities of book trailers for non-genre books? Wouldn’t it be great to see an artful film depiction of the essence of a new novel, history or business book? I’m wondering if mainstream publishers are going to jump in. For me, it’s just one more step in the blurring of the line between the written word and a visual universe that moves, jumps, speeds, yells, spins and flashes. A new world.

For more information on Shomi and complete rules for the contest, including submission guidelines and deadlines, readers can visit www.shomifiction.com.

Excerpt from the BookLife community on www.washingtontimes.com. Carol Herman is books editor at The Washington Times and the mayor of the BookLife community.

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