I READ MY MTV: Of all the...

I READ MY MTV: Of all the things MTV is credited with, a surge in literacy is not usually among them. But the folks at the music channel are gearing up for a project designed to encourage not just reading but writing.

In conjunction with Pocket Books, MTV is planning a series of books--you know, those things with pages and words--actually written by viewers.

"It will be a fiction line about, for and by people in the MTV audience," says Van Toffler, executive vice president of MTV Productions. "We feel there are a lot of young people with a lot to say who may not find outlets in the regular publishing world."

The channel has already turned two of its signature series into print publications, with "The Real Real World"--a behind-the-scenes look at the social-experiment-cum-soap-opera that hits No. 6 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list this week--and "Unplugged," a coffee-table compendium of the performance series that will be in stores next month. Also on the drawing boards are a series of travel books and a volume dealing with issues surrounding sex.

"Believe it or not, MTV is encouraging literature and literacy," Toffler says.

Those terms might not apply to an MTV/Pocket publication coming next month--a talking "Beavis and Butt-head" book featuring the barely lingual duo in such settings as "NYPDER," a cop and doctor show in one. The gimmick: a removable "remote control" that spouts such classic B&B; lines as "that's cool" when you press the button adorned with a picture of shapely woman or "that sucks" for a button featuring homework.

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