While one of the great benefits to digital publishing has been the access authors now have to a variety of methods for putting their books into the hands of readers, one could argue that the same thing could be its undoing for authors who are struggling to be heard in a market that is quickly being overrun with content. In order to make themselves stand out, entirely new creative forms of e-reading are being developed.
Nic Read, creator of the Endworlds ebook series, actively sought new paths for digital reading to take by examining how consumers adopted many forms of entertainment. In an effort to maximize on the potential that the technology brought to literature, he coined the term “reality literature,” or rather, works that depend on real-world involvement from the readers.
“Two components that I discovered were missing from ebooks are an audience involvement level and a movie-quality soundtrack to go with each chapter, so I set about to develop this series,” explained Read in an interview with GoodEReader. “The idea was that the writer had taken the news reports and journals of a fictional band of people and that real-world objects that are meant to be ancient artifacts are hidden all around the world. At the end of the first book the audience is let in on the story and they get the chance as audience members to participate. Those who go out and record videos of themselves finding these treasures will actually be written into the real book. Each book ends with a treasure hunt which will drive the next book in the series.”
By making the actions of the readers a crucial part of the storyline, Read has essentially developed a publishing protocol that relies on people to keep the story going. The clues that the readers find at the end of each book in the planned nine-book series will lead them to decipher a puzzle that will in turn become the actual GPS coordinates of a real, physical, hidden object that is crucial to the storyline. As readers discover these treasures and their experience with the treasure hunt becomes part of the tale, a back story will be unfolding that details the steps that the good guys have taken to prevent the bad guys from capturing those actual human readers.
So far, Endworlds’ success has fallen squarely on the shoulders of its brand-new but already invested fan base. After its launch four weeks ago, the Facebook page for the series already has over 40,000 followers posting to each other about the series and its clues. Due to the file size and resulting download speed of accessing a full novel with soundtrack and illustrations, the first book in the series has been broken into three components labeled Endworlds 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3.
One aspect of the ebooks’ success has stemmed from Read bringing in fantasy and sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster of the Star Wars and Star Trek novelizations, among others, to put the key story lines together. In addition, Read Books, the team behind the reality literature series, focused a lot of attention on the crucial soundtrack of the ebook. Read and his team spared no expense when it came to incorporating a film-quality original score, recorded by the Czech Philharmonic. The score can be played while the user is reading the story on an iPad, adding to the emotion in much the same way that a film score does. The soundtrack to the series can also be purchased for listening by those readers who don’t have a dedicated e-reader that supports music, such as Kindle.
“The next round of the story is going to be huge,” continues Read. “If there are authors who feel they’ve done a detective novel or a historical novel, I believe we’re going to be able to put this into different genres of literature. Fans can collaborate across borders with people whom they’ve never met to create a very entertaining pastime through this type of reading.”