Just in time for the holiday season: Customized Classics!

Customized paperback editions of classic novels starring YOU! We offer the largest selection of customized books where YOU and your friends and family enter the story… How does it work? Simply go to the book you wish to customize, click the “Customize Now” button, and a list of the personalizations that can be made for that book will displayed. Type in your custom values, go through the secure credit card payment page and you’re done! In a few weeks a personalized, professionally produced paperback novel will arrive at your door!

Currently we offer A Christmas Carol, Anne of Green Gables, several Sherlock Holmes titles, Romeo and Juliet (“including the happy ending version!” [Ed: What the Hell is this?]), Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Shortly we will also be adding Robin Hood, Tarzan, Pride & Prejudice and The Mark of Zorro and a new line of children’s books.

The trope of personalization is a certainly a familiar one anyone who’s had the misfortune to read stuff on e-commerce. I’m also not unfamiliar with the notion of playing around with literature: Mark Leyner does a hilarious thing with a professor who rewrites the endings of famous books to have the Mossad tie up loose ends– killing the white whale in Moby Dick, for example. I know enough about reader-response theory and poststructuralism to see that, in some sense, we work ourselves into classic texts. And finally, around the house we have a few books that talk or sing, or invite the reader (specifically, Elizabeth) to do one or another innocuous and possible educational activity.

So why does this seem insane to me?

I am curious as to how they handle the personalization. Are the texts marked up in XML, with tags for “main character,” “location,” and so on? If they were, you could then (theoretically, anyway) do a find-and-replace. I’ve e-mailed them and asked. If I get a reply, I’ll share it.

[via Joi Ito]