Posted by Jennifer Sokolowsky on January 31, 2011 10:30 AM
It’s been some time since Charles Dickens and William Thackeray became famous with serialized novels, but the concept — making the reader wait for the next chapter — is being given a modern twist with an e-book on IBM’s effort to build a computer smart enough to beat the world’s best Jeopardy players.
Houghton Mifflin, the publisher of Stephen Baker’s Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything, has released the e-book exclusively through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. However, the e-book will be missing the last chapter — until mid-February. Once the final pre-taped Jeopardy contest between Watson, the IBM computer, and “Jeopardy” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter has been broadcast, the final chapter will be released to the e-book's buyers.
The winner is already known, so the fact that readers will have to wait for the ending won’t be a draw for them to buy the book.
But the e-book’s release will allow readers to get their hands on the book well before it is published in hard copy.
Also, the stunt could build up awareness of not only the book, but the upcoming contest as well. And publicity about the gimmick may help raise the publisher's profile, as well as that of IBM and Jeopardy — something that certainly couldn't hurt any of them.