James Patterson Launches Self-Destructing Book With Help of Mother N.Y.

Author Says Campaign Is a Publishing First

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To promote his new book "Private Vegas," author James Patterson has teamed up with Mother New York to help the novel blow up -- literally.

Launching today, for the low price of $294,038, the campaign gives one avid fan the chance to read a hard copy of the book in a mere 24 hours before it self-destructs. He or she will also get a first-class flight to an undisclosed luxury location, a five-course meal with the author himself, and a bomb squad that will handle the book as he or she reads from afar with golden binoculars.

One thousand U.S. readers who don't want to dish out the cash for the real experience will also have the opportunity to read a free digital version of the novel released through a web app before it disappears after 24 hours. The hardcover book will be available on Jan. 26.

On selfdestructingbook.com, the randomly selected readers can unlock their free copy. They'll also be able to track other readers' progress and "steal time" from them. The campaign is meant to parallel the thrills that are often found in Mr. Patterson's books.

"We wanted to think of a way to create something for him that is equally as thrilling as his writing," said Mother creative Bella Castano. "We're an experiential team here at Mother. We had to figure out how to actually execute the idea and fly someone out to a remote location and have a bomb squad there," she said, adding that research and special effects experts have been involved in the process.

For an author whose books basically sell themselves - Mr. Patterson has sold around 300 million copies -- it may seem odd to put such an over-the-top effort into one promotion. But Mr. Patterson isn't the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it' type."

"If you stand still, which a lot of people do, you're going backwards," he said.

Mr. Patterson, who previously served as an advertising executive for JWT before committing to writing full-time, said that books need to compete with movies, the internet, and television. Since it's not uncommon for people to read his suspenseful novels in one setting anyway, the idea for a self-destructing book seemed to work.

While the campaign promotes Mr. Patterson's latest book, it's really meant to represent the author's brand as a whole. "The campaign is more indicative of his overarching style," said Mother creative Jose Funegra, who described Mr. Patterson as a " master of thrill and suspense."

"He doesn't look at himself as just an author," said Ms. Castano. "He sees himself as an entertainer."