This week a multimedia novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The novel is called The Kills, by Richard House. It’s not my usual genre of romance, by any means :) , but it looks a gripping thriller, with an unusual concept, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.
The Kills is made up of four books. Book three is a book within a book – a separate crime thriller, which the characters in the other three books are all reading. I love this idea! I only hope when I’m reading it I can get my head wrapped round all the threads :)
But that’s not the only thing that makes this book stand out. There is additional multimedia content in the form of videos and audio clips to accompany the novel. The author explains in this interview that ‘the films that accompany The Kills…don’t change the main narrative, but they do inform it. The books work just as books, but the reader has a choice – you can dip into the extra material while you’re reading, or explore it afterwards.’
So basically, you can read the book without watching any of the video clips if you want, but the author thinks you”ll get a richer experience by watching the additional material.
So how does all this work? When you buy the book, what happens? Well, here’s how it goes:
- you can buy the print book, and then go to the website www.thekills.co.uk to watch the additional videos
- you can download the standard ebook. The website links will be included in the ebook, but for people who have ereaders such as a Nook and Kindle (that is, practically everyone), you’ll still have to switch on your computer and go to the website and type in the links to watch the videos.
- if you have an iPad or iPhone, you can download the enhanced ebook, and you will be able to watch the videos and listen to the audio directly on your device.
So basically, it’s just a normal book, with some video clips on the internet.
I’ve only watched one of the videos so far, and I thought the photography and the voiceover were excellent. It shows the view from the window on a bus journey in Iraq, through the mountains, whilst the male narrator describes reading A Thousand and One Nights to his girlfriend on the bus. The scenery was superb, and the narration really stuck in my mind.
If you’re on Twitter, you can download the first book for free by sending a tweet, and there is a hashtag to go with the book (of course!), which is #whoissutler.
Is this the future of reading? I’m not sure. The author of The Kills is an artist and film-maker, as well as a writer, plus he’s also editor of a technology magazine called Fatboy Review. He created his own videos and audio content. How many writers can do the same? I for one would have no chance. So if the writers can’t produce their own mulitmedia content, that means the publishers will have to produce it for them, which will be expensive. I have heard that there are some romance publishers who are wanting to go down this road. Of course publishers would be happy to produce multimedia content for best-selling authors, because it will be worth the outlay, but I really can’t see how this will work for every contemporary romance they publish – unless we writers take a film-making course and produce our own, at our own expense!
Also, do we really need the multimedia content, anyway? There is a review by “Captain Crusty” on the ARRSE website (ARmy Rumour SErvice – obviously British Army humour hasn’t changed much since my dad was in the army :) ) , and he says: The additional material does add to the experience…but only in the same way that a diagram or picture would have done in traditional paper-based media.
I remember the days when you used to get a free treasure map in a book about pirates, and it was really exciting. Is Captain Crusty saying the extra content is just the equivalent of a free treasure map? Maybe, but it’s a much more expensively produced map.
I’m really intrigued to see where publishing is going to go in the future. I remember having a pop-up book of The Wizard of Oz when I was little, and thinking the page where the Emerald City pops up was the most beautiful thing ever. Maybe children in the future will be amazed at whole 3D cities appearing out of their reading tablets. Who knows? It will be interesting to find out!
Have you read any multimedia novels? Have you ever heard of any multimedia romance novels? And what’s your opinion? Is this the future? If you have any comments on this fascinating subject, I’d love to hear from you!