Wally Lamb is publishing a new novel—but, as the New York Times reports, it won’t be hitting the shelves of a bookstore near you anytime soon. The novelist is releasing the book exclusively as a digital app through new ebook publisher Metabook—and it will only be available for purchase via iTunes.
Lamb’s debut work, She’s Come Undone, became a bestseller after Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club in 1997. Recently, Lamb announced the publication of his sixth book, I’ll Take You There, which will arrive in 2016. However, if Winfrey chooses to anoint Lamb’s latest effort as one of the year’s top literary picks, her book club members will have to own iPads or other Apple devices in order to enjoy it. The work will be sold in print eventually, but a publisher still hasn’t been announced, the Huffington Post reports.
I’ll Take You There tells the tale of a professor who hosts a film club in a movie theater haunted by a deceased silent movie actress. Eschewing conventional novel format, Lamb’s app will enhance the novel’s plot by adding a slew of extras, like an original soundtrack, audio narration, and a documentary about the theater that inspired the work.
As the Times points out, Lamb isn't the first to experiment with interactive, multimedia book apps. However, these other efforts have often been non-fiction or children’s books. Lamb will be joining a small yet growing list of contemporary fiction writers—including British author Iain Pears, and former Mcsweeney’s editor and publisher Eli Horowitz—who are using technology to shape the way they tell stories. For instance, Pears released a novel, Arcadia, in both hardcover and app form; the app allows readers to explore ten different characters’ narrative threads. Meanwhile, Horowitz’s print novels are available for download in serial installments, and include games, maps, recipes, and other extras.
A "novel app" is a cool and innovative concept, but it also comes with drawbacks. PC users won’t have access to I’ll Take You There, and print-lovers will have to wait a while until they can buy it in physical form. Also, some readers just don’t want their stories to be accompanied by interactive features. However, as technology evolves, it’s taking everything with it—even literature.