There's probably no better way to promote a new title than getting the author to discuss the book with a potential reader. Thanks to a new digital application called Bookwraps, online retailers will be able to offer their customers a streaming video presentation of authors doing that, and much more.

Bookwraps are Web-based video commercial spots that offer an assortment of clips featuring the author talking about his or her book and writing career. Visitors to an online bookseller will see the Bookwraps icon—a small movie camera—on the book's title page. When the reader clicks the icon, a page appears with an assortment of video clips and additional information about the book.

The service is offered by Bookstream, a company founded by Charles Halpin, former CEO of R.R. Bowker, and is being offered to publishers as a way to market and promote their titles online and offline. Halpin founded the company in 2000 and Bookwraps launched this past April.

Halpin said Bookwraps makes "books come alive," with an informal, informative author interview. Bookstream produces an extensive video interview with the author, edits the footage into a series of short clips about the title and author's career, and supplies the technical infrastructure to syndicate the Bookwraps Web pages. Halpin emphasizes that while the service is targeting online booksellers, Bookwraps' video also can be used offline, at trade shows or for in-store promotion. "FSG uses Bookwraps to introduce authors to media outlets," Halpin said.

Bookstream is offering the service to publishers, who in turn can syndicate it to Web retailers. There is no charge to retailers unless some sort of customization is requested. The service costs publishers about $3,500 to $4,400 per title, which covers the cost of producing the video interviews. The price is a one-time fee.

About 13 different publishers have signed on for the service, among them Basic Books, Crown, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins, Routledge, Simon & Schuster and Tor, representing about 200 different titles. Retailers using the service include Books-a-Million,, Hastings and Sam Weller Books. Several library systems also use it. Bookwraps has marketing alliances with the, Readerville and TitleSmart.