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Interview with R. A. Montgomery

We launched 20 brand-new eBooks for Kindle with colorful artwork and trackable maps.  Read on for series founder R. A. Montgomery's thoughts about bringing his books (some of them were written more than 30 years ago....) to the Kindle and beyond:

Do you read eBooks?
I read a great deal and eBooks are one of the many ways that I read.  Let’s not forget that whether it be paper books or eBooks or any other mode of offering, we are talking about storage and retrieval mechanisms.  I do have to say that I love books, physical books, and always will.  But I find that I read much more and more quickly – and intelligently – on the iPad.  I was laid up with a knee injury last winter and started a Steinbeck.  Before I knew it, I had plowed through his whole oeuvre.  One after another.  It was so easy to download the next one.  I also love the search function.  I can look up words, terms, leave the book to check maps and history, things that I want to know in that moment that without the iPad would be much more time-consuming and difficult. I also frequently print this information out and store it in a three ring binder.  So I have not given up paper at all!  Frankly, ebooks are a very intelligent way to read.

Do you use a tablet?
Yes, I am addicted to my iPad.  I did not care for the original e-readers that I encountered.  But the iPad changed everything for me.  I started out by using my wife’s iPad and she never got it back.  Until I upgraded. 

What is most challenging when bringing a Choose Your Own Adventure book into a new format, like for Kindle?
Trying to duplicate that sense of moving through a story.  That comes in the paper format by jumping around.  We finally settled on some icons that required swiping and that seemed to help emphasize moving around the story.  We also added a map feature, which I find neat.  You can hop anywhere in the book from the map, or return to the branch you are on.

Was Choose Your Own Adventure brought onto computers?
Yes, we were on the Atari set top box in 1982.  Bantam, our original publisher, actually started a little software division just for us.  It was the text of a story interspersed with some early eye-hand coordination games and some puzzles.

How do you think kids will read Choose Your Own Adventure in 20 years?
It will be similar to what we saw in the first Star Wars film, when Princess Leia sends her message requesting help.  I think books will be projected as holograms.

Do you think the guts of a Choose Your Own Adventure change when it goes digital?
No.  Choose Your Own Adventure is the eternal challenge of making choices.  It is the same whether it’s in a paper book, the iPad, or in a game with lots of text.  Its power remains the same. Don’t forget that books, movies, television and now computers have never destroyed the excitement of ideas.

Do you think eBooks are bad for people?
I think eBooks are inevitable and have the power to greatly enhance the reading experience for kids and for adults.

Do you think the Internet and cell phones keep people from reading books?
My experience indicates that the internet and cell phones have only stimulated people to read and write more and to enjoy music, and to learn more about the world.  I did find it interesting how cut off and to a certain extent lost younger people seemed in the aftermath of Sandy without their smartphones.  Anything that makes people obsessive – and I’ve seen adults as well as kids become obsessive about texting – has the potential to become a detriment. 

What else have you been up to lately?
I just crossed the Atlantic on the QM2, which was a wonderful experience.  A plane gets you there in six hours, and this took seven days.  It was pleasant to be cut off from the chatter of the media.  It gave me time to think.  And no jet lag!  Also, the ocean was awesome, quite literally.