Are people reading? Are people reading books? Are people reading more or less? Are people reading for pleasure? Are the Internet and ebooks and audio books destroying the market for printed works?
As this is endlessly debated, some authors are expanding beyond books to tell stories; embracing technology, rather than fearing it.
Do you ever wonder what happened to a character in a book after the book ended? Traditionally, your only hope of finding an answer is if the author writes a sequel. Did you love Contents Under Pressure by Lara M. Zeises? Lucy Doyle is a normal teenage girl from a typical family; and in Zeises' awesome book, we discover the pressure of being a teenager: family issues, friendships, boyfriends, popularity. (For the record: I finished reading this book and thought this is the type of book I want to write. It's funny, serious, sensitive, insightful, real.) So you get to the end of the book and wish you knew what happened next with Lucy.... No need to wait. Check out Lucy's diary, updated regularly by Zeises, er, I mean Lucy.
Or maybe you just read a fantasy book and loved the world that was created. You want to eat, breath and drink it. If you read Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, you're in luck. Oppel's fantasy takes place in an alternate world, where luxury airships cruise the sky. It's close to our world; the Pacificus Ocean instead of the Pacific. Matt, a teenaged cabin boy on one of the luxury airships, has a series of adventures that includes air balloons, storms, pirates and crash landings. Learn more about Matt's world and ship; read newspaper entries about explorers and pirates, study the blueprints of the great airship, and explore photos and a short movie. (If you're a teacher, Oppel's main website also has a study guide and a 120 page literature unit for Airborn.)
I was recently told about iMix from iTunes; the modern version of a mix tape or mix CD. Some authors are including "play lists" with their books. Ellen Wittlinger's Heart On My Sleeve is about two teens who meet in person then continue their relationship via email. Both teens love music, and the book comes with a list of songs. How cool would it be to have an iMix for Heart On My Sleeve? A soundtrack for a book.
If you've found anything that supplements the story told in the book -- that goes beyond a sample chapter and a discussion guide -- please let me know, whether its a website, iMix or even a music video!