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Digi-Novels: The New Books

Earlier this week my attention was drawn to a book #2 Son wanted to get on the recommendation of his 4th grade teacher (a teacher recommending a book? What are the schools coming to?) called Skeleton Creek. Creek is making an attempt to hit the tech-savvy tween audience as it is both a novel and a series of movies on a website. The book is the story of two teenagers in their quest to discover why Skeleton Creek got its name. The gimmick being that every so often the book will direct the reader to the accompanying website to watch videos by the hero, Ryan. This is all intended to ramp up the scariness factor. An interesting idea.

Then, I’m ran across an article on Yahoo about Anthony Zuiker’s new novel, called Level 26. Given the horrible moniker of ‘digi-novel’, Level 26 is billed as “a crime novel that also invites readers to log on to a website about every 20 pages using a special code to watch a ‘cyber-bridge’ — a three-minute film clip tied to the story.” You can immediately see the resemblance to Skeleton Creek. Yet another case of a new idea cropping up almost simultaneously. While I find these books to be interesting and an brave attempt to combine the print and online worlds, I think they are more gimmicky than anything else. The main reason being you have to put the book down, swap to your computer, log on to a website and watch a video. That really breaks you out of the story.

But, I think this sort of thing would work really well in a different medium: the ebook.

Think about it, ebook readers are all ready digital, with big screens and you can connect and download books wirelessly. I can see time where readers have faster processors and bigger, full color screens enabling audio and video to be embedded directly in the text of the of story. Or, even cooler, how about kicking off a bit of music or some sound effects when the reader gets to a certain page? That could be creepy or cool depending. You could also make video appear automatically in the same manner. This solves the problem of breaking out of the story to watch video. If you really wanted to get wacky, authors/publishers could add interactive elements to allow the readers to comment on the story/novel/presentation, etc. That could be really cool.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before we can jack directly into the internet via a brain interface, making the whole ebook thing irrelevant.

About JP Frantz (2322 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

2 Comments on Digi-Novels: The New Books

  1. I think this kind of imersive experience (ebook version) would be totally fun and engrossing. And I think it’s only a matter of time before we get that kind of thing. You could log in to iTunes, buy the new Neil Gaiman book, complete with movies and sound FX, and read on your iPod. And then it’ll only be a matter of time before A-list stars start showing up like they do for video games. It’s a thrilling prospect.

  2. J.C. Hutchins’ book “Personal Effects: Dark Art” has a really cool interactive element to it in that along with the book (a dark horror/mystery tale) you get a packet of documents that act as clues.  You can just read the book, or you can also call the phone numbers, visit the websites, etc. and kind of play along with the main character in solving the riddle.  The reader is even privy to clues the characters are not.  Well written, and a really cool package.  If this sort of meta-book is intriguing you should definately check out J.C.’s book.

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