The Self-Destructing Book

I first heard about James Patterson and his self-destructing book, Private Vegas, earlier this week through an article on Mashable. I was immediately intrigued and thought that it was a very original, fun idea as well as some great marketing! I immediately wanted to figure out how to get one of the 1,000 free copies and take part in this campaign.

Truthfully, I haven’t read very many of Patterson’s books but my fiancé and my mom have read a ton of them. I know his books are very exciting and typically can be quick reads so I thought, maybe there’s a chance that I could get through the book in 24 hours. That is, if I didn’t have a ton of time stolen! – we’ll come back to that.


Getting the access code for my book was a challenge in itself. At the top of the hour (but not every hour over the 5 days they are releasing codes) a specific number of codes will be released. You had to be ready at that exact time because the codes went FAST! If you got to the next step, a bunch of random codes would flash on the screen and you had to pick one – which may or may not have been valid. I tried three times on Wednesday to get a code and got the “mission unaccomplished” message every time. Then on Thursday afternoon Nakia (my co-worker) asked if I had gotten a code and how it worked. When I went to the website, it said 15 codes would be released in 11 seconds! Perfect timing to show her the disappointing message I assumed I would get again. NOT THIS TIME! I received my code and a message that it would be destroyed in 6 hours if I didn’t activate my book. Of course, this was at 2 so I had to anxiously wait a few hours until I could get home.

I quickly went home at the end of the day, did my workout, had dinner, and curled up on the couch to start reading. When I saw how many page there were (321) I was convinced that I would never get through the whole thing. That’s a lot to get through in a short amount of time, especially since I knew I had to work today. Oh and there was that little bit about people sabotaging your book and stealing time. Anyone can go to the to “sabotage” someone by just clicking a single button. One click would steal 15 MINUTES! As you read you could see your progress at the top of the screen next to your timer. It would flash red and show you ever time someone lost time, including yourself. Every time I saw my timer speed up my heart sank a little. It would throw me off for a few minutes and I just had to keep telling myself to get my head back into the pages.

Showing my status
Showing my status
Someone getting time stolen
Someone getting time stolen

A couple of other neat features they included were once you turned the page there was no going back, the page was instantly destroyed. They would throw in animations that tied into the story every now and then. For example, there was a part where a woman was murdered and blood spatter flew across the page when I went to turn it. Also, at large section breaks, I was asked how I was feeling on a scale of nervousness/anxiety. I’m anxious to see if anything gets released with that data or how they may change future experiences based on the information (occupational hazard!).

A little after 1 am I did finish the book and after I turned the last page, the image exploded on my screen and my book was destroyed. Book 248 – completed. It was a fun and stressful (in a good way) experience and I would definitely be interested in participating in more  campaigns like this. It made the story come to life and introduced a new way of interacting with the book rather than just hitting Barnes & Noble to grab a copy or downloading it months later on my iPad when I got around to it.

My completed profile with destroyed book
My completed profile with destroyed book

I don’t want to talk about the story itself because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who wants to read it. There are still codes being released if you want to experience the self-destructing book for yourself. And if that doesn’t work out, the hardback versions will be out on Monday. 🙂



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