Not all print material lends itself naturally to the iPhone (I still like to read the Times the old-fashioned way: on my laptop screen). But one genre is a natural for mobile apps: Choose Your Own Adventure.
NPR's Talk of the Nation spoke with Edward Packard, an original Choose Your Own Adventure author who co-created U-Ventures, an iPhone app based on the series. Packard explained that the app form, rather than just digitizing old material, actually gave the creators new freedom:
[W]e could [...] absolutely use as many pages as we want because there was no printing cost. We could have color and have just fast-paced endings with only a couple of things happening on a page before you had to quickly make a choice. And so there was just a lot more flexibility.
Also, "books can't make sounds and that sort of things." And on top of the extra bells and whistles, the new Choose Your Own Adventures remove some of the stereotypes that cropped up in the originals. Packard explained that the print book's original publisher had chosen to represent "you, the reader" as "a white boy, looking like sort of a junior James Bond." But, he says,
[W]e decided, with these apps, we're not going to have that problem. We're going to make it point-of-view, the reader. And as you go through your adventures, all the illustrations show things as you see them with your own eyes.
I'll admit that I've never gotten into reading on the iPhone — the screen is so small, and it just seems like a slightly worse version of reading a book. However, Choose Your Own Adventure seems ideally suited for mobile devices. Frankly, the print books were never that user-friendly — there was all that page-flipping, and you risked exposing all the alternate endings before you'd even chosen one. Taking the story onscreen seems like a big improvement — and when you add in gender equality and cool sounds, maybe this is one instance where the death of print isn't so bad.