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Digi-Novel: The Future of Publishing’s Future

May 26, 2009

level 26 coverIt had to come, not from an author, but from a TV guy–Anthony Zuiker–the creator the CSI franchise.  According to USA Today, Zuiker, along with Duane Swierczynski, have written Level 26: Dark Origins–a digi-novel to be published by Dutton.  The 384-page book is the first in a series that combines a “triple-platform”–books, video, and fan-based website–to tell the story.  Zuiker expects the new title to cause a “revolution in publishing for the YouTube generation.”

After every 20 pages or so, readers will be able to go online to watch a three-minute video. The videos are designed, Zuiker says, “to embellish the novel and drive readers to the next book.”

Each  book comes with 20 videos that carry the story, production as slick as CSI itself, according to all reports.  This is the future of publishing.  Just watch:  Kindle will soon deliver these videos and the book text.

This new genre (hopefully) of book is exactly the kind of storytelling that America needs to create new readers.  (See my post on Never Tell the Whole Story written March 1 for a rationale.)  Dutton’s president Brian Tart, who signed Zuiker, apparently gets it:

Tart says Zuiker’s novels “have to stand on their own as books, and they do. But publishers need to experiment with new ways of engaging readers. Books were a primary form of entertainment when there were only a couple of TV channels and no Internet.”

Kudos to Dutton and Tart for truly breaking new ground that could successfully reach beyond the current pool of people who like to read.  But here’s my wish list.  

  1. I wish this was initiated by a publishing company or serious author, not a  TV producer.  Why can’t publishers be this creative?  
  2. I wish the stories weren’t placed in the “Technology” sections of newspapers.  This is a publishing story.  Or should be.  Why can’t publishers toot their own horns a little better and convince the media to change its narrative?

Level 26 releases Sept. 8.  

As gruesome as this book and its videos will undoubtedly be, I’m looking forward to grabbing my own copy…so I can see for myself what the future looks like.

Let the revolution begin already.

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