I recently came across a book called Cathy’s Ring which is the third in a series of books by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman. The first two in the series are Cathy’s Book and Cathy’s Key. I found Cathy’s Ring to be confusing, mostly because I didn’t read the first two books in the series, however I was struck by the notion that the authors claim they are “lucky to have had the chance to pioneer interactive and multimedia storytelling at the dawn of the Information Age, and they don’t intend to stop anytime soon, ”according to their bio.
The books all come with “evidence packs” . These are letters, birth certificates, phone numbers and pictures which give clues to the mystery Cathy is trying to solve. The mystery involves people close to her being immortals and some of them trying to kill her. Readers are directed to websites and phone numbers from the cover of each book. These books are being called the first of their kind because of the interactive multimedia aspect of them.
I decided to visit the websites to see what is “interactive” about them. The site for Cathy’s Ring (http://cathysring.com/) is not yet active because the book is not being released until May 2009. (One of the perks of being a librarian who reviews books is having access to books before they are published!). So I visited the sites for the other two previous books in the series (http://cathysbook.com/ and http://www.cathyskey.com/ ). The website for Cathy’s Book features a link to doubletalkwireless.com which is apparently a website set up for a fictitious company by the main character and her best friend. This is where you can post on forums and discuss the ins and outs of the books. This forum seems to be very active and it appears Cathy has a lot of fans.
There is also a feature which allows you to “age yourself” on both websites. The website for Cathy’s Key features a few other interesting pieces of “evidence” that would intrigue fans as well as a place to submit your own art work for the site. (All of Cathy’s books are filled with sketches and drawings in the margins, etc.)
After perusing the websites, I decided to call the numbers so I picked up my phone and dialed the numbers for Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring. These proved to be very entertaining! Each is the voice of a character from the books. (This all reminds of Lost a couple of years ago where they had the fake commercials leading you to phone numbers and websites. That was so much fun!) I kind of wish I enjoyed the book more because this interactive multimedia thing is actually pretty cool.
I was wondering if there were any other books that have this interactive multimedia thing happening. I think most authors these days have websites, the most popular of which probably have forums where fans can discuss the books. Children’s book publishers often have websites with games or coloring pages for their popular books. But do any books go as far as Cathy’s books which allow readers to actually become a part of the action and feel more connected to the characters and story. I can’t think of any others so I guess the authors are right. They are pioneers.