From Amazon Publishing imprint North47 comes Daniel Wallace’s Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side, a lavishly illustrated volume on the history of the Star Wars villains so many fans love to hate (or love to love). But more than just a book, Book of Sith is a collectable souvenir as well as a multimedia experience: it comes packaged in a mechanized, pyramid-shaped case that, with the push of a button, automatically opens, disgorging the blood-red hardcover accompanied by flashing lights and real Star Wars sound effects. The Book of Sith expands on the success and innovation of Owen and North47’s 2010 release The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force, which also came in a collectible, though significantly less polished, “vault edition,” which went back to press twice after selling out an initial run of 25,000.
How did this project start? When did the idea of an animatronic case first surface?
The Jedi Path was originally conceived with a souvenir box, a mechanized, multi-layered collectible. And the readers really seemed to like it. Fortunately, we were able to improve it [for Sith]: it looks a lot better, plus the subject matter is a little more fun. Inside the case are more, smaller souvenirs. It’s squarely aimed at the reader-collector, what you might call “the dedicated fan.” About six month ago, we released a standalone book version for readers who don’t want to pay the extra money for the flash, they just want to read the book. We’ll probably follow the same template for Book of Sith, but so far we don’t have the deals in place to do that.
One of the differences being a writer or publisher in the age of the Kindle is this idea that you need to have “something else” [to go along with the print product]. I’ve worked on books that could be published another way; that could work just as well on e-book, but others are full coffee table art experiences. This is the most extreme of the latter kind I’ve done, not just a coffee table display item but a genuine souvenir, designed to be interactive, to be played with, to display, and again to read.
What with the pushback regarding Amazon’s publishing program, do you think it be available in the local bookstore?
I don’t think so. The last one was similar in that it was available in some stores, but it’s a big thing and it’s hard for stores to sort of display it—it comes in a big case and the impact is seeing what it can do. It’s hard for stores to take advantage of that, and much easier for consumers to get it online: on the product page, there’s a video of the case opening. Amazon will be the primary retailer also because it offers a hefty discount off the retail price [$99.99 retail, $62.35 through Amazon].
How was working with Amazon’s new imprint North47?
As a writer I’ve done a lot of work with licensed publishing, so I’ve got several different masters, including Lucasfilm as well as Amazon. It’s just been a little big of an experiment—I don’t usually have that many cooks in the kitchen—but it’s been a great process, taking the success of The Jedi Path and trying to improve everything we did last time. I think it’s going to be simultaneously released on Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan, and Amazon UK. [Amazon] will really get the word out to fans.
After spending so much time with them, are you able to pick a favorite Sith lord?
Techinically, I wrote Sith but I wrote it as if I were six different authors, each section written in a different time period by a different Sith lord—some of them are from the games, some from the films. The last person I had to write as, the architect behind putting this book together, is Emporer Palpatine, king bad guy from the movie. I think he’s my favorite, if only because he’s the only Sith who really won. He ends up losing in Return of the Jedi, but this is one villain who actually does take over the world—the galaxy—and rules it unopposed for 20 years. The guy knew his stuff.