Ever find yourself reading a book wherein you are disappointed with the decisions of the characters? Wish something had gone down a little differently? It’s frustrating, it’s rewarding, it’s depressing, it’s memorable, but one thing is universal – that’s just the way it is because that’s how the writer wanted it.
Whether you regularly fit the description above or are just jonesing for something different, there’s a new service that can give the development of a book more pliability by involving you, dear reader, more actively with what happens in the book. It’s not a novel idea but it’s new again thanks to Coliloquy, a publisher of “active fiction,” which is roughly defined as books in which readers affect the course of characters or plots by selecting from possible choices based on what you’d like to happen. Wish Barry had taken a left than a right at that fatal intersection? You can do it. Think Veronica should’ve shot that hostage instead of letting the bad guys get away? You can do that, too. (Well, I have no idea if you can do these specific things – they’re just examples. You can’t go bananas with your directorial control as you’ll have to stick with pre-determined choices set within the book.)
The best comparison to this method of reading – and I swear to God, I wish there was a better way to describe it because everybody else that’s covered this story has been using this very same comparison but it really is the best way to make you understand – is to recall those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the 1980s and 90s. Coliloquy has built off of that idea and brought it to Kindle devices. Their press release goes into detail:
Coliloquy’s new publishing format enables multiple story lines, serial and episodic story-telling, personalized content, in-book engagement mechanics and the delivery of prompts and special or exclusive extras to create a more fluid and immersive story-telling experience.
Coliloquy comes out of the Kindle Developer Program for Active Content and will be available immediately on Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle DX and Kindle Keyboard devices. By delivering titles as active content applications, rather than static publishing files, Coliloquy enables new kinds of engagement made possible by advances in electronic book distribution. Multiple “what if” story lines let authors and readers explore different permutations of character relationships.
(And in case their name makes your butt itch, the odd spelling is intentional. They explain: “We created ‘coliloquy’ as a portmanteau of soliloquy and colloquy.”)
The selling point of Coliloquy is that you can literally re-read a book and have it be different each time you go through it (given you don’t exhaust the amount of scenarios available for readers to choose from). What’s more is that they’re taking the choice-based platform one step further beyond the traditional Choose your Own Adventure series and involving the books’ authors for future installments of a series. As readers forge their own paths in the books offered by Coliloquy, feedback is sent to the authors who may “test and refine new ideas based on insights of the readers.”
As of today, Coliloquy has four book titles in their interactive offerings:
No word yet if these will be available in other ebook markets like Nook later. If you’re a Kindler out there and you happen to give these books the old college try, let us know what you think in the comments below.