You Can Now Have Alexa Play a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Audiobook
Around this time last year I read about a startup called Select a Story that was developing interactive fiction stories for smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. Interactive fiction is a thriving industry, but there’s still only a few titles available via platform like Alexa.
Now Audible has launched a couple new stores from ChooseCo, the company behind the choose your own adventure brand.
In collaboration with Amazon’s Audible division, the two companies are together releasing an Alexa skill (properly licensed) that will bring ChooseCo’s Choose Your Own Adventure stories to life on Alexa-powered devices, like Echo smart speakers, which are controlled through voice commands.
The voice skill itself was jointly designed by Audible, ChooseCo and the Alexa team, and will launch with two narratives to start: “The Abominable Snowman,” which takes listeners to the peaks of the Himalayas in search of the yeti, and “Journey Under the Sea,” which ventures to the underwater Lost City of Atlantis.
The former offers 28 total endings and the latter offers 37.
Instead of Alexa’s robotic voice, the stories are narrated by voice actors Josh Hurley (Abominable Snowman) and Stephanie Einstein (Journey Under the Sea.)
Audible has released an Alexa "skill" that can be used to make more similar stories, but while it is great to see the tech getting better, I don’t see this going anywhere soon.
These stories require a considerable investment in time and resources – each has to be narrated, and programmed – but there is currently no way to sell them. Without a way to recoup costs, this idea is really more of an interesting hobby than a viable product.
BTW, if you want to learn more, Teleread has a great post.