You Can Share This E-Book, But You Have to Rewrite It First

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Leanne Bertram)

Well, here’s a tale that’s bound to get your book club buzzing. Thanks to Google staffer TL (“Tea”) Uglow, eager bibliophiles are now imagining what it would be like to read A Universe Explodes, an experimental, limited-edition digital book that requires each of its readers to make changes to the text before sharing it.

Follow Topics for more like this

Follow for more stories like this

As Wired explains, Uglow authored the concept book, which was developed by design studio Impossible Labs and published by Editions at Play. A Universe Explodes tells the story of a “parent whose world gradually falls apart,” a plot that intentionally mirrors the digital book’s design.

(Image credit: Editions at Play/Google Creative Lab)

For starters, only 100 people own an original version of the interactive e-book, which can be accessed through a browser. However, that’s where its similarities to other forms of digital literature end. Each of the book’s 20 pages contains 128 words. Upon finishing their copy, the owners must pass on their newly revised version of the book, which can be done via email – but not before they remove two words on each page and add one of their own. Adding to its quizzical nature, the book can only be shared from friend to friend up to 100 times.

So, if your brain hasn’t exploded by now, you’ve probably figured out that at the end of this sharing lies a book that may be complete gobbledygook. That said, what’s the point of it all?

As Uglow outlines on Medium, A Universe Explodes is about three things: ownership, Blockchain (the technology that backs Bitcoin and enables the tracking of the book’s sharing history and owner-submitted changes) and literature. She writes, “We’re wrapping all that together into something that we think could be a wonderful experience that transcends those three ideas. Or perhaps it’s just very confusing.”

Admittedly, we’re a little puzzled by the concept…but still extremely intrigued.