QR Codes: Wave of the Future for Books?

I am not a fan of e-readers.  I’ve touched on this topic before.  It’s not that I’m anti-technology or anything like that.  I just prefer to have a real paper and ink book.  The thrill of turning a page to see what happens next, feeling the paper under your fingers, or placing your bookmark when you’re at a stopping point then flipping the book up to see how much is left (how can it all possibly come together in the few pages remaining!) is unmatched.  Clicking a button or checking your progress via a status bar at the bottom of the screen just doesn’t cut it.  (Never mind the fact that I’m a frequent tub reader and having dropped a book in the water a time or two, I’m freaked out at the possibility of dropping an e-reader).  How long will it be until kids have no idea what “having your nose in a book” means?  You can’t exactly bury your face in a Kindle or Nook.  Then there’s the distraction of it all.  The regular Kindle isn’t so bad because it is purely for reading. The Nook and Kindle Fire, however, are both trying to be a more book-centric iPad, complete with games and all of the other things I’m trying to escape when I sit down with a book.

This post is not a tirade on real book vs e-book, however (as I’ve said before, the e-book has its merits), so I digress.  One of the issues I have with an e-book is that it doesn’t lend itself to my vision of my dream library, where every thing is categorized, alphabetized, and indexed.  You read a book on the Kindle, then…it’s just there…on the Kindle.  A line of text that indicates a book is a click away.  There’s no satisfaction of placing your recently completed tome on the shelf, another trophy in the case!  And it’s not practical to go and buy a bound copy just to put it on your shelf.  My husband prefers to read on the Kindle though, so when he downloaded “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” it didn’t make sense for me to buy the hard copy.  So what’s a real book lover to do?  Well, I’ve come up with an idea.  Thanks to this post over at the Dystel blog about comic books retailers selling electronic copies with hard copies.

Have you seen the QR barcodes?  I’m sure you have, they’re on everything these days.  Especially the Christmas ads.  For instance, my husband wants a gyro-copter.  Brookstone sent us a sales paper (that’s what we call them here in the South) that had a gyro-copter and in the upper right hand corner was a blobby looking barcode.  My husband scanned it with the barcode scanner app on his phone and voila, a video appeared demonstrating everything the gyro-copter could do.  These little codes are linked to everything lately.  You can even generate your own with hidden messages inside.

What does this have to do with books, you ask?  Well, what if each book came with one of these codes?  It could be something like the ink tags on clothing in department stores, or perhaps it would print out on your receipt after you purchased the book.  You would scan it with your smartphone and download the e-book.  I have a Kindle app on my phone that syncs with my husband’s Kindle, so if I download a book on my phone the next time I turn on the actual Kindle it’s there, and vise versa.  There would have to be some sort of limit built in that would only let you download the book once.  I’m not sure how that would work since I don’t know that much about the codes, but I’m sure there’s a way.  There’s bound to be other flaws with this idea, but I think once the kinks were worked out, it just might work.

Think about it.  Let’s use “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” as an example.  Say you haven’t read it yet and in anticipation of the movie (in the US at least) you decide to pick up a copy.  You truck down to your local bookstore, buy the book, and scan the code that prints out on your receipt.  Then you go home and read away.  The next day you wake up late, rush to work, and by lunch you just need a break.  So you head off somewhere quiet to eat and read, but in your rush you left your book at home.  No worries, though!  You just pull out your phone, skip to your page, and there you go!  When you get home you can pick up your book again, and when you finish, add it to your collection.

Personally, I think it’s a pretty brilliant idea, but I’m a bit biased, haha.   I’m curious to know what the issues might be with it.  What do you think?  Could this work?  Could it be the wave of the future for book lovers?  Or are there problems or issues that I don’t realize?

3 thoughts on “QR Codes: Wave of the Future for Books?

  1. as an old fashioned book lover and critic reader, I am afraid Fahrenheit 451 was not a visionary prophecy of our time only but The dangerously real prospective of it all. If not burnt, paper books are gonna disappear in the future. No memories left. No proofs or evidence. Here in the UK many libraries are at risk of closing just because there is no money to invest on wasting-time pleasures such dead books full of dust on the shelves of sadly empty libraries.
    Think, not only you forgot your book at home but your android is nearly dying..
    Think if all the electricity of the world ends up all of a sudden. Tik. No electricity in the whole world. No electricity at all.
    I think we should have a critic approach on purchasing what’s in the market.

    • Libraries are having that sort of issue in the US too, and it’s just depressing. While I can appreciate the e-readers usefulness at times (like traveling) I will never be able to leave my regular old books behind.

  2. It makes sense to me as a marketing idea–after all, if you subscribe to National Geographic magazine, for example, you can also download the issues to your iPad… I’m a reader who simultaneously loves the physicality of “real” books AND the benefits of e-books, so I’d love being able to have the e-version in my e-reader’s library when I purchase the paper copy… My iPad is my “go-to” reader now, but my bookshelves will never be empty–there’s room for both in the world! 🙂

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