Transmedia via app: Brave New World?

Text, audiobook, video, & photos synced via iTunes app? In this Reuters report, Dean Goodman reports that You Can’t Always Get What You Want, the tell-all memoir of rock & roll roadie Sam Cutler, is the first simultaneous release as an iPhone app in North America. In the free-wheeling Wild West of text morphing to digital content, I have no idea if this claim is actually true. But the impact of increased consumer expectations of enhanced media in the publishing field is beginning to feel like a ride in a stagecoach with the horses out-of-control.

Touch screen re-creations of picture books for toddlers, text synchronized audiobooks, and an abundance of iPhone audiobook apps of audiobooks are all examples of  transmedia storytelling. As a school librarian, I’m intrigued about the participatory function of transmedia and the skills needed by today’s learners – watch the video at the end of this post for more on this from New Media Literacies. The implications of these shifting trends for the audiobook publishing industry are both exhilarating and daunting. You’ll have a chance to make your voice heard by audiobook producers in a new feature that I’ll kick off here on Audiobooker this Wednesday, April 14th. Be sure to stop in to give BBC Audiobooks America’s Michele Cobb your feedback in the very first “Publisher’s Forum.”

If you’re curious about the app that started my train of thought, I’ve linked items in this quote from Goodman’s article:

Sam Cutler released “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and its multimedia iPhone app simultaneously this month, the first time this has been done in North America, said his Toronto-based publisher ECW Press.

The multimedia elements were developed by Expanded Books/Apps. Also on board is Ironic Apps, a firm run by former Rolling Stones business manager Ron Schneider.

The app, available for $9.99, contains the full Cutler-narrated audiobook synchronized with the text, video links to two interviews, and more than 30 photos (some exclusive to the app).

Clips will also be featured from the Stones’ disastrous Altamont free concert in 1969, when a fan was stabbed to death by a Hells Angels member near the stage.

Cutler holds a special place in Stones history as the mustachioed roadie in the related concert documentary “Gimme Shelter” who coolly pleads with fans to climb off the scaffolding or get off the stage at the California speedway. His is also the voice heard introducing the band at the start of their 1970 live album “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out.”

His book recounts his life-threatening encounters with the Hells Angels in the aftermath of Altamont, as well as his subsequent duties with the Grateful Dead.

Cutler, a 67-year-old Briton, originally published “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in 2008 through Random House in his adopted homeland of Australia. Beginning April 13 he will begin a promotional tour in Seattle, with stops planned for Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London. He will also take part in a Webcast that will be streamed live to iPhones on April 25.



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.