What if the movie was inside the book?

This post is a contribution from Nicolas Dalibard, one of (many) young talents of TBWA\France.  He’ll be talking about the very innovative book—that is so much more than a book—Level 26.


Level 26 does not refer to the top floor of a skyscraper, rather it’s the title of a “digi- novel” by Anthony E. Zuicker (creator of the series CSI ) and his acolyte Duane Swierczynski.  Understanding that his readers might be more at ease looking at web pages than reading book pages, and browsing in their iTunes library than spending time in an actual library, Zuicker wrote this detective novel with the digital generation in mind.  Indeed, in Level 26, the reader must go to the book’s website, every 20 pages or so, to cross a so-called “cyber-bridges” of videos and other interactive features.

Level 26 is the first in a trilogy about the fight between a former FBI agent whose entire family has been murdered, and a killer named Sqweegel—a serial killer so violent, vicious and twisted, that a 26th level in the hierarchy of serial killers was created just for him.  The trilogy is kicked off by a killing so horrifying that the ex FBI agent comes out of retirement to track down Sqweegel.  Aside from the overall quality of the story, I am most interested in the “Trojan Horse” aspect of the novel.  Inside the book, the reader finds a series of codes that once entered in the website, deliver exclusive content: videos of murders and torture, crime scenes, key plot developments….


Alongside the website is the community of “26ers”, hard-core fans who participate in writing the following editions in the trilogy through “deputy challenges”.  The 26ers catch various errors in the 1st novel, add content to the website, and discuss and participate in various forums.  The site gets about 300 new members per day.  And if you were unfortunate enough to have entered your email and telephone number in the site, the serial killer might contact you while you’re reading the book!  There is also an iPhone app for the book (compatible with iPod touch and iPad) as well as various Facebook pages for Level 26.  Below is Anthony E. Zuicker explaining the strong potential that “digi-novels” have for product placement:


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