QR codes have been around for a while now. They are being used on all sorts of print promotional materials from business cards, to billboards, to real estate “For Sale” signs. These codes allow individuals to immediately link to additional information and resources on the Internet.
Publishers have begun to incorporate QR codes into books’ covers. Many publishers are using these codes on the back cover copy to either link to the book’s video, the book’s testimonial page, or simply the book’s website. I recently reported on a comic book cover that “talked” (see “Talking Book Covers”) through the use of a QR code.
Now Publishers International has developed what they are calling “Smart Books.” These books provide a unique link between print and digital information. This publisher is embedding QR codes right into the pages of their educational books.
In these Smart Books, fact-packed pages teach kids while the embedded QR codes in the pages help to expand the learning experience by linking readers to videos, quizzes, and games. All a reader needs is a smart phone or tablet (with Internet access) with a QR code reader installed to access the digital information embedded in each book. In addition, the books can be enjoyed with or without a QR code reader.
This expanded use of QR codes is interesting, although not entirely new. Melville Publishing House announced in 2011 that they were producing “Hybrid Books” featuring QR codes embedded in the text linking readers to “extras” placed on the web (see “Hybrid Books“).
I think this hybrid or smart book strategy probably works best for children’s books, but travel books, cookbooks, and historical books could all easily incorporate QR codes in the text, linking readers to additional pictures, videos, and helpful tips.