Friday, October 1, 2010

Video Killed the Radio Star...

...but what's it doing for writers?

People might still be lamenting the rise of e-books, but while they debate, technology marches on. This may come as news to some, but authors these days are no longer providing "manuscripts," they're providing "content." Because that story that's been rolling around in your head for years might end up on the pages of a book, as bits and bytes on an e-reader or even get translated into a game.

Check out this announcement from Kristin Nelson yesterday:

Flash media and online game artist (with an already created Facebook game set in the world with 13,000 registered users) Marie Lu’s debut dystopian YA trilogy starting with LEGEND, set in the flooded Republic of Los Angeles 2130 A.D., about a boy who is the Republic’s most wanted criminal and a girl who is the Republic’s most beloved government prodigy whose paths cross when her brother is murdered and she is hired to hunt down the boy responsible—but the truth they uncover will become legend, to Jen Besser at Putnam Children’s for fall 2011 publication, at auction in a very major deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World).

13,000 registered game users, before she even had a book deal! Amazing!

Meanwhile, the former president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, Rick Richter, has launched his own company, Ruckus Media Group, to create high-def story apps for kids. The first book available, The Velveteen Rabbit, has the story read aloud by Meryl Streep while the screen zooms and pans over classic illustrations. The company plans to digitize favorites like Tom Thumb and John Henry. But they've also signed up authors like Jon Scieszka and Andrew Clements to create new work specifically for this format. You can read more about this at Publisher's Weekly and at

Big publishers are getting in on the digital movement as well. Random House Children's Books recently partnered with Smashing Ideas, Inc. to create similar book-based apps for kids.

Individual authors are getting in on the act, too. Last October, author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba released Lula's Brew for the iPod/iPhone and she recently made it available for the iPad as well. And back in June I wrote about a company called, that takes short, original stories from authors then has them read aloud by children. The site gets more than 500 submissions each month, and the videos receive more than 35,000 views. will gaming and video change books? Are you ready for this new frontier?


And the winner of a Roald Dahl book is:


Congratulations, JEM! Email me at solvangsherrie at gmail dot com with your mailing address and the name of the book you'd like.


Becky Levine said...

The screen zooms and pans without the user/reader/whatever having any say in what it zooms and pans on?! I have to say...ick! :)

Kristan Hoffman said...

Dude, LEGEND sounds awesome!! I can see why that would appeal, both as a game and as a book.

That said, I have no interest in Warcraft as a book, or Resident Evil (maaaaybe). Nor do I have any interest in a Twilight video game. {shrug} BUT I'm not a kid anymore (no matter how much I might wish!).

Carolyn V. said...

Wow, that's amazing. My son read a book about Starcraft. He didn't like it as much as the game. =) But it would be cool to see some books as games.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The technology is getting to where we are only limited by our imagination.

I'm trying to remember which movie it was that featured silent actors adjusting to talkies. Love story with Gene Kelley, I think.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Fascinating post, Sherrie! I had no idea so much of this was happening. :-)

lotusgirl said...

Technology is a great platform to start from if you can do it.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Oh great just when I'm getting used to ebooks we go to gaming books? Aaargh!! This post however reminds me of the Julia Childs blogger (Julie/Julia) whose blog inspired a film and a publishing contract. The film is 5 star excellent but I've heard the book is not good. I thumbed through and didn't purchase it because the voice didn't capture me. So the idea of getting a pub contract based on a concept isn't a new one. Virtual books however? That's not surprising. You know it had to come along with ebooks.

Krispy said...

I don't know if I'd want to PLAY Legend, but I do want to read it now! Definitely caught my interest!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

wow 13000 - thats awesome.

Cinette said...

I myself have never played a video game, and my kids never had them growing up, either. They don't miss it, but they have their iPods and laptops, so they aren't completely in the dark;-) I like my kobo, but my kids don't care for ebooks. I guess it's just hard to imagine books as games; I haven't a reference point.

Lori W. said...

Recently saw a picture book on an I-pad. I wouldn't want to curl up with it, but my kids would. Very cool. And I'm excited about Ruckus. My impression is that this is a company made up of people who know and love kidlit.

I can only hope that all this will lead to more reading. If the people involved in these new ventures care about literacy and good books for children, it doesn't matter to me that we're going digital -- except for the possibly neurotic idea that I wouldn't want my toddler (if I had a toddler) receiving all those EMCs given off by the I-pad. :)

storyqueen said...

Such a timely post.

I worry about some of it, though. I mean, it seems like some of the technology takes the "work" out of reading for the reader.

I don't think this is a good thing.

It's like how many professors/presents use power points in their lectures....and then they give you a hand-out with the power point screens on it....They are telling you what is important instead of letting the listener make the judgment. The brain doesn't have to engage as often the brain doesn't.

So much to think about.


Jan Markley said...

That's a wild story - creating a market for a product before there is a product!

Barrie said...

It's all wild! Thanks for the up-to-date post.

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