The Entrepreneurial Backstory of 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Creator R.A. Montgomery
Earlier this month, noted author and Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) champion R.A. Montgomery, died at his home in Warren, Vt. He was 78.
As the creator of a now iconic literary format, Montgomery was also a noted entrepreneur and early arriver to the tech and gaming scenes. He was one of the first owners of an Apple II, for instance, and helped adapt several of the first CYOA books into Atari games.
Between 1979 and 1999, Bantam Books sold more than 250 million copies of roughly 230 CYOA titles before taking the series out of print -- whereupon Montgomery formed his own company, Chooseco, to reawaken the genre for a new digital era.
Since 2005 -- with ebooks now in the mix -- Chooseco has sold a total of 10 million copies of 65 CYOA novels. Montgomery’s final title Gus vs. The Robot King, was released last September, while a movie based on one of his books, Mystery of the Maya, is currently in development at Fox Films.
In many circles, Montgomery is credited with spawning a genre that has impacted countless other industries. Role-playing video games like Dungeons and Dragons, for instance, are rooted in the “you”-centric narratives that CYOA books popularized.
And the form still lives on today. Just last month, the actor Neil Patrick Harris released Choose Your Own Autobiography -- a self-described “interactive read that puts the ‘u’ back in ‘aUtobiography.’”