Sunday, April 13, 2014

The "Choose Your Own Adventure" Story

As a young kid I was pretty ambivalent about reading, and the only books I remember really enjoying back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, were from the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series. Because kids could literally decide at the bottom of each page (from a few options) where the plot should go, a young reader could make the book as entertaining (or, alternatively, short) as they desired.

I found THIS brief history about how the series was originally created in the 1970s to be fascinating in many respects.  It apparently began when a bored lawyer for RCA Records named Ed Packard began writing a story in this format for his kids in 1969.  But it languished unpublished for years, apparently, until a former high school teacher named RA Montgomery (then working at a small Vermont publisher) began championing it as a concept to bigger publishers in New York City.

The series' end is summarized as follows. "By the late 1980s, the series was showing signs of exhaustion. Lackluster concepts like You Are a Shark were pushed through in the rush to keep the installments coming, and the number of possible endings in many titles dwindled. Early Choose books had dozens of endings; later entries saw as few as eight. Then, with the rise of video and computer games, which provided that same interactivity in an even more addictive format, Choose's foothold in the market slipped. In 1999, after selling 250 million copies worldwide, the publisher retired the brand and let the trademark lapse."

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