Are Video Game Tie-Ins the Future of Books?

The New York Times this morning has the second in reporter Motoko Rich’s series on the future of reading, focusing this time on video games and whether they are making kids more or less likely to enjoy reading books.

The most interesting part of the piece concerns kids’ series like Scholastic’s The 39 Clues, Book One: Maze of Bones that come with multimedia tie-ins that are only slightly secondary to the books themselves. While some of these experiments might be no more than marketing gimmicks, Ms. Rich writes, there are those who believe that some of them “may push creative boundaries” and “extend storytelling beyond the traditional covers of a book.”

One wonders what Heroes creator Tim Kring and his new friend Dale Peck would say about all this in relation to the project they’re working on, an alternate history thriller series distinctly not just for kids that will be accompanied—the way TV shows like Heroes and Lost have been—by an immersive alternate reality game (ARG) that readers can participate in online. Publishers showed enormous interest in Kring and Peck’s project when it was pitched to them back in April; Crown, the imprint of Random House that ended up securing the rights, paid $3 million for it.

Another interesting figure who could weigh in on this stuff is former Hyperion editor-in-chief Will Schwalbe, who retired from traditional publishing earlier this year to pursue a project rumored to involve some fusion of books and video games.