03 June 2009

Closing the Circle with Cathy's Ring

The Cathy's Book trilogy by Sean Stewart and Jorden Weisman is about to come around to the end with Cathy's Ring. It feels like only a short time ago I was writing on the SCBWI New England email list about the first book, which was controversial because the authors had made a deal with an advertising sponsor.

Lost in the kerfuffle was how Cathy's Book promised to interact with readers in new ways, with a website, telephone messages, and other digital media tied into its fictional mystery. That book became a bestseller, but such is my demographic that I can't recall ever having actually seen a copy.

Which needn't stop me from writing about it, right? Publishers Weekly reported that the third book comes or is marketed with:

  • "Cathy’s actual ring"
  • a glow-in-the-dark poster
  • a video trailer
  • an original song, “I’ve Lost My Way: Cathy’s Song”
  • the Cathy’s Ring website with
    • discussion forums
    • activities
    • a MySpace page
    • a Facebook page
    • a Flickr page
And that's not all! The magazine adds:
To promote Cathy’s Ring, Running Press enlisted the help of Expanded Apps to create iPhone apps for the series, which will contain the text of the books and utilize the iPhone’s phone and internet access, as well as touch/motion sensitivity (phone numbers, Web sites and videos will be embedded within the text in the apps).
So that means this "book" required writers, artists, and the usual book production experts, plus a jewelry designer, a video director, video crew and actors, composer, musicians, music producer, software app designers, and website designers. Have I left anyone out?

Once upon a time, an author could create most of the original content of a book by sitting in a room and typing for a long time. Of course, there were always many more people involved in producing that book and bringing it to the attention of readers (i.e., publishing it), but the core creation was solitary.

That's obviously not the case with Cathy's Book and its sequels, or other interactive, multimedia "books" that will follow its model. A lone author is unlikely to create all that stuff. This is authorship by studio. In the future, we authors will have to learn to come out of our rooms. For now, I suspect many of us are hiding under the beds.


AliceB said...

Under the bed, with a flashlight, my softest pillow, my favorite comic book, and something sweet. . .

Marie Cloutier said...

I don't blame you. It changes things when books aren't just books anymore but multimedia product streams.