In a nifty combination of literary panache, digital media and traditional print publishing, author Matt Stewart’s novel The French Revolution, originally released a year ago 140 characters at a time on Twitter, will be published in a paperback edition by Softskull Press on Bastille Day July 14, which serves as the birthday of contemporary characters in the novel.
And if releasing a novel essentially a sentence or two at a time isn’t devilishly promotional enough, Stewart’s also releasing a free iPhone app that will allow the reader to photograph any page on the print novel—let’s call it augmented litereality—and unlock bonus background content. Once a page is photographed using The French Revolution app, the device will load a virtual tour of places in the novel as well as music, recipes and supplementary material.
Originally published in 2009 on Bastille Day via Twitter—yes, it took about 3700 tweets to publish the entire book—the novel’s eccentric publication attracted media attention from the The New York Times, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and many other venues. On his website Stewart emphasizes that the book is not “in French,” is not “non-fiction” and “is not about the French Revolution (that’s the late 1700s for non-history majors).” The book is in fact a comic family saga set in contemporary San Francisco that uses allusions to the French Revolution to enliven the story of an eccentric family at war with itself.
And the book isn’t just about new media novelty and clever promotion, the novel received good reviews including a PW review that called the book “a whimsical debut.” For more information check out Stewart’s website and download the French Revolution app. And Stewart has also posted a YouTube video demonstrating how the app works.