I’ve read a bit about networked books, specifically non-fiction books, often books about technology, applications, new media, that kind of thing. The idea of a networked book is that the author or publisher releases the book initially on the internet. Early readers (other experts in the designated field, those using the book to learn applications, other self-appointed interested parties) read the book on-line and in various ways can contribute to the end product; sometimes readers can change the book outright a la wikipedia, or maybe they can only email the publisher or author with suggestions and or corrections. Or, maybe they create forums surrounding the living document, and a real discussion and community grows. It sounds especially useful for tech related non-fiction. A final hardcopy of the book might eventually be released by the publisher, the revisions ultimately being a product of the Internet community. The idea is that for these subjects, this material, is that a collective revision and editing process can only make the text better, more useful.
But can the same idea work for fiction? Do you want to readers to vote on what will happen next, or suggest plot devices? It reminds me of those Choose Your Own Mystery children’s books. Allen Strider is trying to write a novel using the online community at his fingertips:
The world already exists in very exact ways but certain important decisions of major characters will be up to you. At the end of every chapter, I will take the best 2 or 3 suggestions and create a poll. The decision will be made by the popular vote.