App adventure Temple Run helps draw readers

Before video games and apps gave us the ability to make our own way through adventures -- as well as to live and die again and again -- we had gamebooks. These offered readers the chance to create their own adventures and were huge in the '80s when series like Fighting Fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventure took off. Once computer gaming came along, the book versions died away but, just like their own stories, gamebooks are getting the chance at a second life.

Ironically, it is apps and computer gaming that are behind the latest success of books like Egmont's Temple Run with publishers now turning to electronic resources to help inspire readers and, particularly, reluctant readers. The Temple Run app has been hugely successful, so can the brand attract readers as well as gamers?

The Temple Run-branded books published by Egmont have included titles 'Jungle Trek', 'Doom Lagoon' and recently-released Arctic Rescue and Pyramid Peril. In the stories, which are fast-paced, Indiana Jones-type adventures, readers can choose which path to take, which person to trust, which mode of transport they want -- basically, how they want their adventure to shape up. Often, it ends grimly and the reader will be sent back to the last decision they made to try to find a scenario where they survive!

Egmont is planning to publish a number of books in the Temple Run series -- so will it find readers? We asked a number of schools to test the books out for us.

Librarian Helen Swinyard at the Heartlands High School in Wood Green, London, said that she felt the series "would appeal to younger secondary students who have short attention spans or who are not used to finishing whole books" - stereotypically, boys. "Those who enjoy the game of Temple Run itself should find the books quite satisfying," she added.

Having the books persuaded her to downloaded the app herself and give it a go, to try and experience it, which was a useful experience. "I think the creators of the book have tried hard to keep small details of the game, and the feel of it, into the content," she says, which will help encourage new readers to stick with it. "I think for most readers they will have already tried out, or know of, the game before reading the books."

Other schools confirmed that linking the adventure stories to an app has definitely increased interest in the series. Melanie Chadwick, librarian at Benfield School in Newcastle, reported, "The app link has certainly made the books more appealing generally, but also to reluctant readers too." She also found that those who were interested in reading the books "seemed to have played the app".

Students who read the books left in the library at Staffordshire University Academy went on to recommend the series to their friends -- largely as a result of the books being based on the app said librarian Linda Brown, which gave the books a certain amount of 'street cred', adding, "Both our books are out at the moment".

It wasn't just the appeal of the app either, says Chadwick. "The 'choose your own adventure' aspect was very popular and the boys I asked said they would read another book that did this and they were keen to read other books in the Temple Run series."

She added, "I think this style of book should still be able to find readers especially with good marketing such as these have had. My brother liked game books 25 years ago but it seems they still have the same appeal, after all the 'choose your own' aspect makes the books more similar to the games they are used to." While she isn't sure if the books have encouraged anyone to read more general books, she says, "They have lead them to read other 'choose your own' books which is a great".

The ability to choose where the story went next was a big hit among students at the Nottingham Emmanuel School says librarian Paul Rogers. "I didn't even have the opportunity to offer this out to readers, as soon as they arrived and were on my desk students spotted them and wanted to read them," says Rogers. "Some boys ready them over night others read them over a longer period so they could try different 'moves'. I'm definitely thinking of trying to get more books like these consequence ones in the library now."

Brown's experience is similar: "I haven't noticed if it has encouraged students to try other books but I have been asked to purchase others from the series, which I will earlier next year."

Swinyard feels that there should be room in school libraries for more books like these. "I think there is definitely space for this kind of reading experience. It gives readers a sense of control over their reading, and helps when your concentration is not good, too. It also gives a sense of motivation, because when you keep 'losing' you want to work out the path that helps you win."

Arctic Rescue and Pyramid Peril were published this month, November, and Egmont plans to publish books 5 and 6 (Volcano Island, Castle Chase) in the series early next year.

Readers comments included:

"I love the games and this book is great. I don't really read but this has encouraged me to."
(Student, Nottingham Emmanuel School)

"The book was really good as it explains why you are running away which it doesn't do in the app, so you understand the app better".
(Student, Benfield School in Newcastle)

"Personally, I do not like to read but after looking at the temple run books my opinion on reading has changed. If my library has more of these books I will be in there all the time. Great if they are linked to do a quiz as that is what we have to do at school after we have read a book."
(Student, Staffordshire University Academy)

Reader review:

I have read the two books that the school librarian gave me and I have read them a lot. I think that the series is great and really different as it is about a game and written in the 2nd person. Not many books do that!

The books also bring a sense of adventure and a new perspective of the game. I recommend this book to all students and teachers that like a sense of adventure.

(Year 7 student, Staffordshire University Academy)

24/11/2014App adventure Temple Run helps draw readers

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