What JJ Did Next

 It seems a series of watermarked proofs were sent out, arriving at editor’s desks -– in some cases their homes -– at the same as they received a phone call from WME’s office informing them that “a package should be dropping through your door right now”. HarperCollins’ Nick Pearson was one who received just such a call at work and rang home to discover that yes, a package had just been delivered. In the US, it seems each proof was slightly different –- with words missing on particular pages for example – all of this done so that, if anything was leaked, WME would know the guilty party.

Ah, yes. Because no book deal involving JJ Abrams could ever be accused of being straightforward.

I love this story. I really do. Alright: I know JJ Abrams drives people bonkers (and let’s be honest – it’s not entirely without provocation, is it?) but I rather admire how this is all playing out.

Equally predictably, we’re talking “high concept” – although exactly what that means in this case, err… no-one quite knows. There’s speculation that it will be a particularly meta sort of book, and it’s been announced that it will actually be written by Doug Dorst, based on Abrams’ ideas.

Of course it’ll be hyped beyond all imagination – but the bit that really got my attention was this:

There is speculation that the book itself will be unusual as an object -– that it might be shrink-wrapped and contain photos, letters and notes. Publication is slated for 2012 in the US and 2013 in the UK and Byng feels he has acquired a unique property, one that will “work through all mediums, print and digital”.

Abrams is a multimedia master. Remember the LOST Experience, which ran online in parallel to the show? Or Slusho!, which pops up in both Cloverfield and Alias?

Apply all of this to the possibility of a novel designed by (albeit not written by) Abrams – one which could fully exploit the technology of e-readers and iPads…

Love him or hate him, it’s a brave new world – and Abrams might just be on to something.


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