Michael Chabon’s New Book is Going Way Multi-Media

This is either the greatest idea of the season or the biggest hooey in years. Thoughts?

Harper Plans Enhanced E-Book for Michael Chabon’s Novel – by Barbara Chai

When Michael Chabon’s highly anticipated novel, “Telegraph Avenue,” comes out Sept. 11, it will be his first novel in five years. In it, the author of the Pulitzer-winning “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” tackles the myriad subjects of used vinyl, childbirth and parenting, commercial real estate, jazz and soul, 1970s Blaxploitation movies, and the Black Panthers.

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, plans to release the book as an enhanced e-book (EEB) in addition to the more traditional hardcover, e-book and audio book formats. The EEB will include lots of interactive multimedia that amplify the themes of the book.

“Once the team read ‘Telegraph Avenue,” we knew this had potential to be a unique enhanced e-book, unlike most novels,” said Leah Wasielewski, Harper’s senior director of marketing. “You see a lot of enhanced e-books for non-fiction, but for this book, there was so much great imagery and a need for some sort of musical element.”

The EEB will include an interactive map of Oakland, where the book is set; eight videos of Chabon; an enhanced table of contents and animated cover; Chabon’s playlist for the book; and original illustrations by artist Stainboy Reinel including three “Strutter” movie posters, a mockup of a DVD box set described in the story, a set of “air fresheners” featuring CandyGirl and Strutter (see illustration), and a fake iron-on t-shirt design of CandyGirl. The EEB will also include clips of the audio book narrated by actor Clarke Peters of “The Wire” and “Treme,” and a “Telegraph Avenue” theme song composed by Peter Lerman and released as a track by the fictional Wakanda Philharmonic mentioned in the book.

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Upon closer examination, we’re leaning much more toward the “hooey” side of things. There are so many things you can do once you’re taking the web/eBook plunge, so many more adventurous ways of embracing new media. (Like, hey, treating it like somethingnew and letting it run away with your imagination, you know?)

As Chabon fans we’re going with the idea that this is the publisher’s concept…because he, of course, would do it so much better. Mr. Chabon, sir, care to comment?

2 thoughts on “Michael Chabon’s New Book is Going Way Multi-Media

  1. Rreed423 says:

    From the cover, I was hoping it came with one of those flimsy plastic records that sometimes came in magazines back in the day. I guess an ebook could come with extras, like a DVD, but I would want to read the text straight through first, without a lot of distractions.

    • LB says:

      Funny that you say that, RR. The cover is very retro to me…and so are the publishers’ plans. I’d say what they’re doing is about a decade behind the curve. If I were Chabon I’d be embarrassed.

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