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.