Over the course of just a few days, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers has announced two new digital reading ventures: the online serial novel Loser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson, and the release of the first iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app in the U-Ventures series.
By visiting the Loser/Queen Web site, readers can view the first few chapters of Loser/Queen and vote on both how the story should continue and on cover art for the print edition of the book, which S&S will publish in paperback and as an e-book on December 21. “I think Loser/Queen is a big step forward in the digital landscape, not to mention being a terrific story, by a first-class author,” said Justin Chanda, publisher of S&S BFYR. The Loser/Queen site is hosted by the social network Visual Bookshelf and sponsored by retailer JC Penney.
Readers can also affect the outcome of the story in Return to the Cave of Time, the first of three U-Ventures apps that S&S is releasing in the coming months. Return is now available, with a second app, Through the Black Hole, to be released later this summer, and a third, The Forbidden Castle,arriving this fall. The apps have been adapted and expanded from three books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series; in creating the apps, S&S collaborated with software developer Expanded Books/Expanded Apps and Edward Packard, a creator and principal author of the CYOA series (R.A. Montgomery’s Chooseco, which has trademarked the Choose Your Own Adventure name, is not affiliated with U-Ventures). Packard wrote all three of the above titles when they were originally published in the 1980s as part of the CYOA series.
“Readers of the original Choose Your Own Adventure books had to turn to a particular page to make a choice,” said Packard. “In U-Ventures apps, they tap the screen. Plot progression is seamless. Our developer, Expanded Apps, added sound, light, and other special effects, even music and alien voices, and I introduced a lot more variations and endings and special situations: for example, where what happens depends on whether the reader remembers a secret word. In the original books, the reader was illustrated as a boy—sometimes a girl. U-Ventures are illustrated from the point of view of the reader: What you see is what you’re looking at.”