Archive for the ‘Children’s Books’ Category

Literature for young adults.


Choose your own digital adventure

The move to an electronic format holds many potential ramifications for literature. Is it the same content in a different medium? Or does the move from text to hypertext offer more possibilities for storytelling?

When I was a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. These young adult novels were interactive, giving the reader control over the main character's actions by offering branching paths. Do you follow the forest's beaten path, or forge your own? Do you fight the giant lizard, or do you run away? The page you flip to next is determined by your choices.

Interactive fiction is well-suited to hypertext, with each choice becoming a link to a new Web page. Using this format, Choose Your Own Adventure-style games have become playable in such digital venues as a Web browser or even the Xbox 360. So why not the Kindle?

ChooseCo, the company behind the original Choose Your Own Adventure brand, has also recognized this opportunity and is bringing their series of novels to Amazon's e-book reader. House of Danger is currently a free title, with additional CYOA books selling for $6.99, roughly the same price as the print edition.

Rather than try to change the definition of what a book is by adding multimedia or other gimmicks, ChooseCo is taking advantage of the native capabilities of both hardcopy and digital formats by offering their books as they were meant to be read, only better. This is the best example I've found of the possibilities of e-books.

What other possibilities do you see for e-book readers like the Kindle to change how books are presented and read?

(Hat tip to Jason Scott)

Winnie the Pooh: An unnecessary sequel?

The New York Times story "The Same Pooh Bear, but an Otter Has Arrived" (a deceptive title — Lottie the Otter is given only the briefest of mentions) describes the first authorized Winnie the Pooh book in eight decades, published this past week. It got me thinking about the correlation between author and creation.

In cases such as this, the author is unavailable to continue his work. Just as Winnie the Pooh has outlived creator A. A. Milne, amnestic superspy Jason Bourne has outlasted original author Robert Ludlum. Since these characters were probably copyrighted by the publishers, it is within their legal right to hand them off to other authors. But had their creators known this would actually come to pass, would they have signed the contract that made it possible?

I'm thinking specifically of a fantasy author whose books became a New York Times bestsellers. The publisher, wanting to capitalize on the success of this author's characters, recruited another author to write even more books using those same characters. From what I understand, the original author said, "That may be your legal right, but if you do so, I have no obligation to ever write for you, ever again." The author was protective of his characters and had a successful enough resume that he could throw his weight around to get his way. Was he preserving the integrity of his literary progeny? Or was he being unrealistic about the degree of ownership he should expect to have over his creations?

Can or should books even be considered separate from their creators? Doubtless no secondary author can or will write in an existing franchise quite like the original author would. At what point does a literary series jump the shark?