The Growing Role of the Internet and Social Media in Electronic Books

The thought of injecting Vine-supported Choose Your Own Adventure videos into eBooks and book apps might seem farfetched and gimmicky to many authors or publishers, but the truth is, Internet and social media integration in electronic books is becoming more and more common.

For instance, the simple fact that many readers are digesting books on Kindles or other tablet devices these days has made it possible for authors to directly link to supporting evidence or other referenced material—just like they would if they were writing their material for a website rather than for a book publication. Embedded YouTube videos have also begun to gain traction in eBooks, begging the question of which kind of web-related media authors and publishers will try to integrate into their works next.

Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites would make sense in eBooks the same way they do on websites, giving readers an opportunity to share what they are reading with friends or followers. Such devices might also be a great way for authors or publishers to gain followers of their own on social platforms. After all, when is a reader more likely to follow an author than when they are reading that author’s book? In other words, further web integration in eBooks could be the next big thing for book marketing.

If these types of integration are not only possible, but probable, then why wouldn’t authors and publishers consider making their books more interactive with platforms like Vine. The engagement possibilities are especially notable for children’s eBooks, or for book apps that are meant to be interactive in the first place. Long story short, the idea of AdVINEture paving the way for some new ideas in digital book publications is not far-fetched at all. Publishers are always looking for new ways to engage young readers, and an interactive, game-like Choose Your Own Adventure model could be a great way to do just that.

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Tech Desk

From the Tech Desk

Vine Videos Inject “Choose Your Own Adventure” Concept with New Life

Choose Your Own Adventure” books are a property of Bantam Books, Random House, and a company called Chooseco, but the concept those books began to establish in the late 70s has been co-opted by so many authors and publishers in the years since that the brand has turned into a broad concept rather than a narrow trademark. From interactive book apps to personalized eBooks, technology has made it possible for readers to engage with their reading in new and exciting ways, bringing the Choose Your Own Adventure concept into even greater prominence. Now, an ex-Twitter employee is going another step further, utilizing Twitter’s six-second video clip app Vine to add a new dimension to the Choose Your Own Adventure idea mill.

For those unfamiliar, Choose Your Own Adventure was a series of gamebooks initially published by Vermont Crossroads Press in 1976. The idea was created by author Edward Packard, who wrote second-person action adventure books that allowed readers to find their way through a winding plot, making choices along the way that would influence the ending and overall direction of the story. When the idea started to take off, the series was contracted to Bantam Books and continued to be pervasive piece of publishing industry culture through the 1980s and 90s. The series ultimately came to an end in 1998, at which point the rights reverted back from Bantam to Vermont Crossroads Press – which is now known as Chooseco.

Still, while the actual Choose Your Own Adventure series has not been as popular over the past decade or so as it once was, the idea of readers influencing the stories they are reading has hardly disappeared. Video game developers, for instance, have taken a leaf out of the series’ playbook, creating narratives that shift depending upon the decisions players make inside the game world, while electronic publishing methods have made it easier and more efficient than ever before for authors and their publishers to formulate stories with varied plot possibilities.

In fact, it has never been more evident just how much technology can change the way we tell stories. Twitter veteran Ian Padgham recently revealed a new concept called “AdVINEture” that takes the principles of old Choose Your Own Adventure storybooks and adapts them to the modern world of mobile apps and social media. For many, the appeal of Vine has thus far been a mystery, as the Twitter-owned service only allows users to create and share videos six seconds long or shorter. Six seconds isn’t long, especially to capture anything of substance or interest on video. However, Padgham’s AdVINEture storytelling experiment has found an intriguing use for the service that actually could turn those brief, six-second videos into incredible storytelling vessels.

The concept of AdVINEture is simple: players read through a short paragraph that provides several links for them to choose from. When they choose a link, they are presented with a short intro video that establishes the basic setting or purpose of the plot. The video is accompanied by a short blurb of text, which gives players two different actions to choose from. Each choice leads to another video, with another bit of text and another pair of options to choose from. With every choice, the player will differentiate his or her path from that of other readers, eventually reaching an ending that could feasibly be entirely different with each play-through. Of course, some choices send the reader back to the start, turning an AdVINEture into a sort of maze that encourages players to remember which choices are the wrong ones so as to progress further and further into the story.

Padgham launched the AdVINEture series in April, with a video narrative simply titled “The AdVINEture.” Another adventure, called “The Revine of the Jedi,” was created to coincide with Star Wars Day on May 4. Both blend text, jokes, and vine videos into fun, confusing, frustrating, infuriating, and ultimately fulfilling experiences that straddle the line between book and video game. Neither the text nor the videos are interesting enough to stand on their own, but the AdVINEture plot-choosing concept turns them both into a cohesive and enjoyable journey that has plentiful potential for integration into other forms of media.

Indeed, it’s not difficult to imagine this kind of video-based, choice-driven plot concept cropping up in book apps or eBooks in the coming years, whether through Vine or some other video sharing service. It’s an interesting idea with a distinctly DIY, low-budget feel, and it could be a perfect way for independent authors and publishers to add a spark of innovation and fun to their book titles. Undoubtedly, the concept would be most successful in children’s books, where the idea of Choose Your Own Adventure began in the first place. However, it’s also easy to see adults becoming engrossed in a book that challenges them to find the correct plot path – especially if that book played off something they already loved like Padgham’s Star Wars AdVINEture did.

Want to check out the AdVINEture for yourself? Click here to play through both the original narrative and the Star Wars variation.

 


 

Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953@gmail.com.

 

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