I am happy to announce that 1 very real, non-hypothetical copy of If You Read This Book The World Will End is being donated to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and will be auctioned to raise funds for this very crucial organization. It will be 1 of the only 4 existing copies.
Sadly it will not have the "Raven" padlock, but I promise it will have it's own unique antique security device, and no key will be provided with the book. The actual date of the auction has not yet been determined, but should be in the next couple of months. It will come with a Hypothetical Library card signed by Neil Gaiman, and date stamped, like all good library cards.
Why anyone would want the responsibility of possessing this book is beyond me, but I am certain that the more money that is bid, the safer the world will remain.
This is the third and final entry of the Neil Gaiman series, and it's a special one. Such a unique project deserves a unique finale. When I told my friend Nick Abadzis (the voice for audio reading) about what I had planned for these Neil Gaiman posts he told me "He's given you a gift, mate" and I have to agree. So let me take a moment to thank Neil for such a fertile idea—this was exactly as much fun to do as it looked. Thank you.
As I worked on the 3 parts of this project I spent some time reacquainting myself with Mr. Gaiman's body of work in all of its many incarnations. Rereading the Sandman series in comic book form, and his collection of short works, Fragile Things in hardcover book, listening to the audio of The Graveyard Book, and reading American Gods on my iPad. The thing I already suspected became apparent—format is irrelevant. His stories, like all good stories, stay good no matter what form they’re told in.
There is a great deal of hand-wringing going on right now about the state of publishing and the future of books and reading. This is mainly due to the impact of e-books. But the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that people need and want stories, and always will.
All of us—readers, writers, publishers, and even the lowly book cover designer—are in a unique time and place to guide the future of books. My particular concern lies with the effect e-books have on the state of book cover. Which as it stands now means near extinction.
Before I started The Hypothetical Library I had been working on an idea for e-book covers—or as I’ve been calling them, digital book covers—for over a year. The premise is that if a cover can work in a digital space, why should it remain a static image? It could be a short film, or animation with sound and music or as you will see, even an interactive puzzle.
While working on the ideas for If You Read This Book the World Will End, it struck me that Mr. Gaiman's strange proposal was the perfect way to show what could be possible for a strange and new kind of cover. A hypothetical cover for a still-hypothetical format.
Some technical notes, disclaimers, and caveats:
This cover was built in HTML 5—which is a very new way to do things— by the very talented programmer and designer Jeff Gray. Both he and I would have preferred to build this in Flash, but since I wanted it to run on smart phones and the new iPad, this was simply not an option. As a result, this cover is best experienced on a web browser, on your pc. It will run on your other devices, just a bit slower, and those of you using Internet Explorer 6 or below, won't have much luck at all, sorry. This is both the thrill and frustration of dealing with new technologies. Figuring out the best paths and workarounds takes time, and I gave Mr. Gray about 2 very short weeks.
If you like what you see please share it with others, and after you’ve tried it you can see some other digital book covers I’ve done here.
So go ahead and click on the image below, if you dare. Don’t be frustrated if it takes a few tries to get to the end, after all you shouldn’t open this book anyway.
If You Read This Book The World Will End—the digital book cover
Jeff Gray is an artist, musician, and developer based in Brooklyn, NY. Some of his work can be found here. He's also found rambling about tech, art, culture, and gaming here. Mr. Gray’s computer suffered a slight drawback after finishing this project. At the shop where they attempted to restore his hard drive, and two backups they asked with ashen faces, and barely hidden disgust “why is there dried blood in your machine?!”
Neil Gaiman: Bibliography
Neil Gaiman has an astonishingly large body of work including novels, comic books, audio recordings, plays, and movies You can see a comprehensive listing of his work on his website.
Of special note is his upcoming anthology Stories: All New Tales which Mr. Gaiman co-edited with Al Sarrantonio. It includes an amazing scope of writers including: Joyce Carol Oates, Jodi Picoult, Roddy Doyle, Stewart O'Nan, Walter Mosley, Chuck Palahniuk, Peter Straub, and many more. It will be released on June 15th.
Available now is Instructions, a wonderful story book with beautiful illustrations by Charles Vess. It's a book you can read to a child, and then read again for yourself, which is probably the best kind of book there is.
Mr. Gaiman remains unscathed by the process of bringing this idea into the world, but then again he must shoulder the weight of having this book sitting in his personal library, waiting for the bolts to finally rust through, and the lock to finally give. Sleep well Neil.
Next week: Rest. Sweet, sweet, rest.