Choose Your Own Adventure books are a beloved series throughout the world. The unique idea behind the series is that the reader makes all of the heroes’ choices, not knowing where they lead. Choose Your Own Adventure books were originally published between 1979-1998, and have been reprinted in the 21st century.
The first of the books was called Sugarcane Island, written by Edward Packard in 1969. The book, which had begun as a bedtime story for Packard’s children, was submitted unsuccessfully to several publishing agencies before coming to the attention of publisher R.A. Montgomery of Vermont Crossroads Press (VCP.) The format was originally published as Adventures of You, but in the late 1970s, Montgomery contracted with Bantam Books to produce at least six new titles now called Choose Your Own Adventure books.
The format for the Choose Your Own Adventure books was not entirely original, having been used with varying success by several European authors in previous years. Each book is written from a second-person perspective, so that when the hero does something, the book says “you” do it. At the end of each segment, the reader is given two or more choices, turning to a different page depending on their choice. Choices may lead to rewards, monsters, unexpected endings, or death. Books contained between 8-50 different possible endings to they story, so that the book could be read repeatedly for different experiences.
The draw of series lies in its ability to put the reader into the story. As video role-playing games (RPGs) have developed, this desire to be the hero of a story has evolved into major video game franchises. When Choose Your Own Adventure books were released, however, video gaming was in its infancy, and very few RPGs were made for early gaming systems. Choose Your Own Adventure books are considered partially responsibly for the RPG genre, as well as the popularity of other game-books such as Dungeons and Dragons.
The original series contains 185 books, beginning with The Cave of Time and ending with Escape From the Haunted Warehouse. Packard and Montgomery each wrote about 60 Choose Your Own Adventure books each, with other contributors making up the remaining amount. The series spawned several successful spin-offs, such as Choose Your Own Adventure For Younger Readers, Choose Your Own Adventure: Walt Disney Series, and Choose Your Own Nightmare, based on scary stories.
In 2005, Montgomery began releasing Choose Your Own Adventure books under his new company name, Chooseco. The books feature new artwork and plans to add new titles to the series. A website, www.coya.com, is run by Chooseco and features online content and secret online endings to many of the re-released titles. Online innovation appears to be the direction the company is heading, with some fans suggesting that internet-enhanced versions of the books will be possible in the near future.