How 'Choose Your Own Adventure' was born

In partnership with Mental Floss.

Ed Packard was a lawyer for RCA records. But it wasn't his true calling. Ed wanted to be a writer, and one fateful night back in 1969 he was telling his daughters Caroline and Andrea a bedtime story about a character named Pete marooned on a desert island.

"I was tired from a long day at work, and I couldn't think of what should happen next in the story. So I asked them. I got two different answers. I could sense that this was an unusual approach. They could not just identify with the main character. They could be the main character." 

Ed penned his first book on the train from his home in Connecticut to his law office in New York. He got an agent at William Morris who told him his first book "The Adventures of You on Sugar Cane Island" would be a big hit. But after countless doors were slammed in his face by children's book publishers who told him his work was more like a game than a book, Ed gave up.

He put his manuscript in his desk drawer and left it there to collect dust.

It was only after he met a young literary agent named Amy Berkower through an old college buddy that the books finally got a good, hard second look a decade later. And with the help of another upstart in the publishing business, Joelle Delbourgo at Bantam, "Choose Your Own Adventure" exploded into a phenomenon that rewrote the book on children's literature.

This story is part of Marketplace's new collaborative series with Mental Floss Magazine. For the full story, follow the link here.


here at Marketplace, we are big fans of Choose Your Own Adventure books, so we built a CYOA version of the week's business news:

About the author

Tommy is a producer on Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal. Before that he worked at CNN Radio as a producer, correspondent and anchor, where he covered everything from the national elections to a story where he had to hike through a New Jersey swamp wearing a blindfold. Before CNN Radio, Tommy worked at both CNN.com and CNN TV, and, before that, did a stint at This American Life.

In partnership with Mental Floss.

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