In the realm of Transmedia storytelling there seem to be some companies that get it and others that completely miss the mark. One of the success stories is the book publisher Scholastic, who, over the course of the last few years has had multiple Transmedia book series on the market, and who continues to invest increasingly in this format. At a time when publishers are desperately looking for ways to make books attractive to teens and younger readers, Scholastic looks like the smartest kid on the block with their selection of spooky, adventurous, and engaging Transmedia offerings.
Skeleton Creek: These books are written as the journals of Ryan McCray, a creative but lonely high school student in the northeastern American town of Skeleton Creek. Over the course of four books, Ryan and his friend Sarah Fincher attempt to solve a variety of mysteries surrounding the haunting of an abandoned mining dredge in the forests outside of town. Their adventures come to involve ghosts, murderers, secret societies, and hidden treasures. The Transmedia element consists of videos which Sarah posts to the Internet for Ryan to view, and for which you, the reader, are given access codes throughout the books.
The 39 Clues: Amy and Dan Cahill are orphans who discover that they are actually descendents of a bloodline who have shaped the course of human history for generations. The siblings go on a quest to assemble the 39 clues which, in combination, can be used to create a serum of incalculable power. Amy and Dan find themselves in competition with other branches of the Cahill bloodline that are pursuing the same goal. The 39 Clues has been a profoundly successful series with 14 books so far, and three more already scheduled for publication. Steven Spielberg bought the rights to the series, and a movie version is scheduled to be released in two years. Each of the books ships with several collectible cards which can be used to unlock online game content which expands upon the story world.
Infinity Ring: If you want to get in on the ground floor of one of these series, the first book of Scholastic's newest offering in the Transmedia adventure genre releases today. Infinity Ring will follow the adventures of Dak Smyth and Sera Froste (which I think we can agree are terrible, terrible names) as they travel through time attempting to repair breaks in the course of human history. The first book is about the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus, and the second (scheduled to come out this winter) is about the Viking siege of Paris in the ninth century. The Transmedia strategy for these books seems to be basically the same as it was with the wildly successful 39 Clues. Books will include an insert that has a code which provides access to an online game component. The difference seems to be that considerably more investment has gone into the quality of the online game. Time will tell whether this series can draw the huge number of fans that 39 Clues did.
Are you a fan of Scholastic's transmedia stories?