October 23 will be a big day for fans of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance cycle. That’s the pub date for a quartet of new releases from Knopf, including an enhanced e-book featuring 17 behind-the-scenes videos in which the author shares stories about and gives insight into his novels. Like the simultaneously published Inheritance Deluxe Edition hardcover (which will also be available as an e-book), the Inheritance Deluxe Enhanced Ebook with Video offers the full text of the novel, plus never-before-seen artwork by Paolini, a letter from the author reflecting on the series, and a brand new scene. Also pubbing the same day are a trade paperback edition of the original Inheritance and Inheritance Cycle Boxed Set, containing trade paperbacks of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.
The Inheritance cycle obviously has no shortage of fans: published in 125 countries in 49 languages, the four books have sold 34 million copies worldwide since Knopf first issued Eragon in 2001. Inheritance, which was released on November 8, 2011, ranked highest in first-day sales of any adult or children’s title published in the U.S. and Canada last year, reaching a total of 489,500 copies across print, digital, and audio formats.
The popularity of the cycle, paired with Paolini’s large and loyal fan base, made Inheritance a logical book to republishe in an enhanced e-book edition, says Dominique Cimina, director of publicity and corporate communications for Random House Children’s Books. “Christopher has a very devoted fan base, and he is constantly connecting with them through social media and our fan site,” she says. “In the enhanced e-book’s videos, he comments on scenes as they unfold, and readers have a chance to engage in the story, and with the author, in a whole new way.”
“I’m very proud of the book as it is, of course, but this was a chance to do something special for readers,” Paolini says of the video-enhanced e-book. “I’m a fan of new technology, and I leapt at the opportunity to connect with fans in new and fun ways. I’m excited that the enhanced e-book might bring new readers to the series – those who might not pick it up otherwise. The videos give readers the chance to see some of the excitement that went into writing the series, especially the last book.” The author filmed the videos in July at Comic Con in San Diego, which, he says, “was great, since I was surrounded by so much energy and people who are so passionate about their projects.”
In addition to the video feature of the enhanced e-book, Paolini is also enthusiastic about the other new content included in both that e-book and the hardcover Inheritance Deluxe Edition and its e-book version. “I added a foreword and a fairly large new scene, and made tweaks throughout the text,” he explains. “There is some new art, and also a sneak peek at the end – I don’t want to give it away –of what happens to some of the characters after that. I believe the new material in the deluxe hardcover filled up an entire additional signature.”
Weighing in on the Perks of Digital
Paolini says he reads e-books “intermittently” – largely when he finds himself away from his Montana home base. “I do like e-books, but I spend most of my working day on the computer, and when I get a chance to read to relax, I prefer to read a hardcover,” he says. “But when I’m traveling, I often read on computer or iPad –whatever I have on hand. I’m an agnostic when it comes to reading devices.”
The author is optimistic about the doors that technology is opening for writers. “There are so many possibilities for storytelling presented by new technology, and I’m excited to explore them as a writer,” he says. “As I see it, every time a new technology emerges, it facilitates communication among humans. The printing press, radio, movies, and now computers have enabled people to tell stories in new ways. We’re just at the beginning of seeing how e-books not only get stories into more hands, but can influence how stories are told.”
Cimina notes that the Inheritance cycle has had consistently strong e-book sales. Paolini saw evidence of his e-books’ popularity on his tour promoting Inheritance last November. “For the first time, people were coming up to me and asking me to sign Kindles or iPads,” he says. “Of course you have to have a permanent marker on hand to do that! Sometimes authors don’t want to sign e-book readers, but I think it’s a great thing to do. There’s definitely been a shift, and it’s interesting to me that e-book readers seem to be of all ages – I see kids, parents, and grandparents using them.”
Paolini starts a four-market tour on October 23, after which he flies to Italy, to be “guest of honor” at Lucca Comics & Games, a large comic book and gaming convention, which he calls “a real treat.” His tour will include a live Twitter chat as well as a live online video chat with authors Rachel Hartman (Seraphina) and Stefan Bachmann (The Peculiar).
“This is a nice way to say goodbye to the series once and for all,” says the author of the final installments of the Inheritance cycle. “Of course it’s a little sad to be saying goodbye to this world and these characters, but it’s also exciting to be moving on to new things.” Yet he’s intentionally vague about what that might be. “I’m not prepared to talk about it,” he says. “But I will say that I think people who have liked the Inheritance cycle will also enjoy my new project.”
Inheritance Deluxe Enhanced Ebook with Video by Christopher Paolini. Knopf, $13.99 Oct. ISBN 978-0-449-81907-4
Inheritance Deluxe Edition by Christopher Paolini. Knopf, $29.99 Oct. ISBN 978-0-449-81319-5
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. Knopf, $15.99 paper Oct. ISBN 978-0-375-84631-1
Inheritance Cycle Boxed Set by Christopher Paolini. Knopf, $54.96 paper Oct. ISBN 978-0-449-81322-5