Designed for boys and girls ages 8 to 12, each book will have a different writer, including such best-sellers as Gordon Korman and Jude Watson. Backed by a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, The 39 Clues also features game cards, a contest with a $10,000 first prize, and a sophisticated Web site that includes games, blogs, videos and thousands of pages of background.
"The word we always used was groundbreaking, " says Scholastic executive editorial director David Levithan. "We wanted to be the first out there to introduce this kind of multidimensional thing."
Scholastic quickly decided that The 39 Clues, its title an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, would make an ideal multiplatform event. Readers might check out the Web site, just as kids who love online games might then turn to the books. A recent study by the American Library Association revealed that many librarians already use games to attract young people and, ideally, get them interested in books.
"I love the gaming aspect of The 39 Clues," says Jenny Levine, a digital specialist for the library association. "I could also see a lot of libraries forming 39 Clues clubs the way they've had Pokemon clubs."