Game books like Choose your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series were very popular in the past.

They are a series of single-player gamebooks. Typically, beginning at the first section, the reader must pick one choice provided by the text, each option detailed at a separate numbered section, which in turn provides an outcome for the option chosen and new choices. Something along these lines:

A loose stone falls out to reveal a rope in the rock. If you wish to pull it, turn to 57. lf you feel it would be wiser to leave it alone, you can return to the crossroads (turn to 267).

Today, with the advent of e-readers and writing tools to facilitate the writer's job (cross references, automatic tests etc), I think gamebooks would be a nice way to entertain avid readers, juvenile or not.

But, is there a market for this kind of books? What has changed?

  • 1
    There might be a niche market for nostalgic adults. It seems like any adult-themed version of things Gen Xers loved as kids is really popular right now. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 17:14
  • 2
    For what it's worth, I've recently let my late teens and young adult students (15-30 yo) read some of my 'choose your own adventure' books and they loved them. Do note these were the thinner variety, but they literally devoured them and asked for more. I've got a feeling if such books are marketed as a new way of reading, it may garner some interest. Kids love novelties, after all. And if one can get celebrities (that appeal to kids) to say they like such books... Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 10:57
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    It is pretty easy these days to determine if there is a market for a certain kind of book. Look for that kind of book on Amazon. If you find any that are published by commercial publishers, then there is a market. If not, not. (The presence of self-published books is not evidence of a market, only of a desire to create. If a self published book is extraordinarily successful, there will be commercially published books in the same genre.)
    – user16226
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


Yes - but it's a difficult market and you might want to check out similar genres

The traditional book market is likely declining in many aspects, but there are many similar types of media that are very popular. Take for example Visual Novels. Basically they are Choose your own adventure games supported by art that shows the reader/viewer what is currently happening. The change that happened in the industry is that digital content is becoming more and more important. Here is a discussion about the market for visual novels (and dating simulations) that comes to the conclusion that (emphasis mine):

The demand for VNs and dating sims is growing every day and so are the number of people making them.

My final word of advice: Making visual novels and dating sim style games really are works of love and passion. Don't underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to write a good story, create good gameplay and develop interesting characters.

If you approach it only from a commercial point of view, thinking to make some "quick cash", you may be disappointed by the results.

If you would like to stick to the idea of traditional Choose your own adventure games in a digital world you could have a look at ChoiceOfGames.com, which is a blog that the user S. Mitchell recommended to my question about finding resources for writing this style of book. They have a lot of different games that they are selling on different platforms, which means that there is still a market for traditional games. Look at Choice of the Dragon for an example of how they structure and display their Choose your own adventure-style digital books as little Apps.

There are also new models for writing book series. Take a look at the blog post The Data-Driven, 21st-Century 'Choose Your Own Adventure' that illustrates how collecting the data from the user's decisions leads to new design decisions, such as which city will play a major role in later books in the series. Collecting the data allows writers to adapt more easily to their audience and to analyze what works and what doesn't work.

With such a tactic you have to be careful and transparent, but it can allow you to gear your stories towards your individual reader base and give them what they like. It's also the most effective kind of feedback you could possibly get as it's mostly a subconcious decision. Few readers will choose paths they do not find interesting only to mess with your statistics. Getting the unfiltered opinion about which characters your audience likes and which they don't like is extremely valuable if you are going for a series or just planning how to write your next work.

They are selling these books for less than 5 dollars, which suggests that readers today (well, 2012, so a bit older but probably still relevant) prefer shorter works for less money - a quick game/book to read with multiple paths to explore and to choose the one you prefer from.

As you can see in a report from the Frankfurter Buchmesse (bookfair) 2016 (published in 2017; german market; report in English) internet book trade accounts for roughly 18% of book sales, while retail bookshops (excluding e-commerce) accounts for roughly 47%. This shows the importance of digital commerce channels. This is not anything useful when thinking about the market chances of Choose-your-own-adventure-style books in the traditional market or the digital versions, but it gives us an idea of how important digital commerce channels are for traditional books. This means that it's a good idea to think about digital commerce channels if you want to market and sell your real-life books.

The report also shows that hardcover and softcover books are increasingly important, while paperbacks are losing importance. After a quick search on Amazon for the original it seems like they are mostly paperback - which is something you may not want if you want to sell your books. Focus on higher quality books to increase sales. But it's worth to point out a part from the fourth page (emphasis mine):

The reasons why paperbacks are having a harder time in today's market are twofold: for one thing, entertaining but short-lived reading material is suffering greater competition from e-books, and for another, publishers themselves have chosen to promote softcover editions while the customers' sensitivity to price is falling, so they are more likely to reach for the hardcover rather than wait for the later release of the paperback.

This shows, again, that digital media are increasingly important and that traditional books are suffering from the increased competition.

Depending on the genre you choose for your version of this genre you might be lucky: fiction is the largest category with a bit over 30% of all sales and the second highest category is books for children and young adults. If you focus on something like a D&D-like story in a Choose-your-own-adventure-style format you might be lucky to hit the sweet spot when it comes to best-selling categories.

Non-fiction on the other hand is currently declining after some apparently strong last years. This might mean that the fiction section was a bit weaker in the last years, so the previous statement about hitting the sweet spot has to be taken with a grain of salt - you might be lucky in these years, but as everything the audience's favourites can change on a whim.

E-books are becoming stronger, though not as much stronger as in previous years. The price for e-books is at the same time declining - the report states that 2010 readers paid around 10 euros per book, while in the last years they paid around 6.5 euros. This underlines that making some quick cash might not be so easy with digital books. The competition is becoming increasingly hard and readers aren't willing to pay as much for e-books - there is far more supply than in previous years. The report states for example self-published books and flatrate models as possible reasons.

I couldn't find any numbers for this specific genre, but it's interesting to see that people are utilizing the method in new and fascinating ways. This talk at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (website in German) apparently was done in a Choose-your-own-adventure-style by giving the audience a chance to use their smartphones to choose which part of the presentation they wanted to see discussed next so that they could choose what they are interested in. This underlines that the genre is not dead - it's experiencing a change. A video of the presentation can be found here (in German; interesting part starts at minute 3).

Some people who have worked on so-called gamebooks say that in 10 years the genre will be dead - but living on in computer games:

Angesichts der Verbreitung von Computer sieht er Spielbücher und sogar die komplexen Pen & Paper Rollenspiele als überholt an: "In zehn Jahren werden Pen & Paper Spiele lang vergessen sein".

Sie leben in den Computerspielen fort, erklärt Jackson: "Die meisten Computerspiele heute sind doch einfach Dungeons & Dragons mit schönen Bilder und einer Software, die hinter den Kulissen die Regeln abarbeitet und würfelt. Die Werte mögen komplexer sein, doch das Spielprinzip ist dasselbe."

My amateur translation:

Given the prevalence of computers he sees gambooks and even the complex Penn & Paper role playing games as obsolete: "In ten years Pen & Paper games will be long forgotten."

They will be living on in computer games, Jackson explains: "Most computer games nowadays are simply Dungeons & Dragons with nice pictures and a software, that is handling the rules behind the scenes and rolling the dice, anyway. The scores might be more complex, but the game concept is the same"

There is a little more data available for visual novels. See here for example for a discussion about how some visual novels raised a lot of money as kickstarter campaigns, often building on existing novels, movies, anime, ...

Muv-Luv’s $1.2 million Kickstarter is the highest crest (so far) of a wave of visual novels finding success through crowdfunding. It's the first to break the $1 million barrier, but hardly the first success. In November and December 2014, Sekai Project launched two crowdfunding endeavors for other famous series, Clannad and The Grisaia Trilogy. They raised $541,161 and $475,255.

Another remark from the linked article:

Visual novels, which once rarely left Japan, have seen remarkable growth in the west in just a few short years. It took until 2012 for visual novels to begin appearing on Steam, with Analogue: A Hate Story, Magical Diary and Cherry Tree High Comedy Club paving the way. 2015 has seen the release of over 85 games and counting that can be counted as visual novels on Steam, with thousands of positive reviews between them.

This shows that this new form is getting a lot of traction in the last years, while the traditional bookmarket, according to the previously linked report, is seeing a lot of traction being lost. That being said, this forum discussion says that the market is saturated - there are lots of amateur visual novels being released all the time and people rarely look for the pearls. Going with traditional established labels like the previously linked and mentioned visual novels might be what made them so successful as kickstarter campaigns.

Here is a discussion about what it costs to create a game and how much you get from it: The Unstoppable Downfall of the Bishoujo-ge Industry–interview with nbkz producer at minori. The title already suggests the basics: it's a difficult market. Increasing resolution sizes mean higher costs for high quality images, more pressure in the market means less sales and higher costs for marketing, increased expectations means that the quality must be higher to satisfy the audience, which means increased costs... In 2000 you were also considered big if your game sold 100,000 copies - nowadays you are big if you sell 10,000 copies. Don't expect your work to be sold too often if you are just starting out.

Kickstarter is very important in the genre - most AAA titles were apparently created with the help of kickstarter.

Some people recommend to try creating apps based on gamebooks as this is a good interactive genre that was inspired by videogames with choices while still giving the player mostly a reading experience geared towards their own preferences. For example the book Enhanced E-Books – Ein Status Quo: Herausforderungen und Chancen für Verlage und die Bedeutung für den Workflow (Enhanced e-books - a status quo: challenges and chances for publishers and the importance for the workflow) says (original emphasis):

Welche Art von Buch eignet sich zur Anreicherung - unabhängig ob im E-Book- oder App-Format?

Spielbücher, also eine Mischung zwischen Roman und Spiel, eignen sich ganz gut. Bücher bei denen man alternative Enden oder Handlungsstränge anbieten kann oder generell dann, wenn ein spielerisches Element hinzukommt. Gamification beschreibt, dass Sie spielerisch zu einer Belohnung kommen, was sich prima in Bücher einbauen lässt.

My amateur translation:

Which kind of book is suited for enrichment - independent of e-book or app-format?

Gamebooks, meaning a mix between novel and game, are quite well suited. Books where you can offer alternative endings or plotlines or in general when a playful element comes is added. Gamification describes that you should get to a reward playfully, which is easily integrated into books.

The conclusion: it's a very difficult market with lots of competition, no matter where you look. Traditional books are under fire from e-books, e-books are under fire from amateur e-books and flatrate models, other genres like visual novels have the same problem as e-books and there are lots of ways how Choose-your-own-adventure is being used as a style decision to give an interesting new spin to older stuff, making it harder to be original.

But: people are still buying Choose-your-own-adventure-style books/ games in all of their variations. If you have the right quality and marketing it's possible to make money with it. It won't be easy, but it's not impossible.

  • Penn & Paper role playing games as obsolete:"In ten years Pen & Paper games will be long forgotten."... HA!
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 15:32

The New York Times ran an obituary for R.A. Montgomery, creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, that referred briefly to the state of the market.

Bantam Doubleday Dell, by then a Random House imprint, stopped publishing new Choose Your Own Adventure books in 2000 because of diminished sales. Mr. Montgomery and Ms. Gilligan began reprinting old titles and publishing new ones in 2006 under the name Chooseco, both as printed books and e-books. The company says it has sold more than 10 million copies.

So the market for this type of book declined by 2000 (perhaps as a result of internet access being commonplace?). While 10 million copies of the series between 2006 and 2014 may seem like a lot, I do think that being an established brand with nostalgia helped a lot there. At any rate, it's certainly not the market it used to be back in its heydey.

I think the biggest change in the market is that most kids these days have smartphones where they can access interactive media quickly, which diminishes some of the appeal of an interactive book. If you choose to publish, you'll have to be aware that you'll compete with that.

That said, one of the niches that Choose Your Own Adventure books always had was helping young kids get into reading (many of the testimonials at the front of the book said as much). I think that's still an accessible market.


Romance choose your own adventure app games seem to be popular. They're usually backed up with various mini-games like dress up, hair styling, make up, and other things that young girls and teenage girls seem to like. However there are some for older teens and focus more on a bodice ripper type story.

There are other choose your own adventure app games that are less games and more like the traditional books. So there is a market for them. But you're likely going to have to learn how to make apps or partner up with someone who knows how.


Don't know what use this information will be after the other elaborate answers but... I work at a used bookstore and these types of books (especially the old choose-your-own-adventure books) tend to sell very well for us. Not that we see a ton brought to us but when we do have them in they leave the shelves fast.

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