How to Add Digital Content to a Paper Book

Steve_Jobs_The_World_of_Mobile_with_Bonus_Book_Apps_The_Inside_Scoop.225x225-75[1]The CEO of Barnes & Noble got a lot of attention when he mentioned plans to add an NFC ability to a future Nook so it can buy ebooks in store, but it looks like at least one publisher has beaten him to the punch. The newly released print edition of Patrick Meyer's Steve Jobs and the World of Mobile, which hit store shelves earlier this month, has an NFC chip embedded in the front cover.

I've written about NFC before when I covered Samsung's nation-wide ad campaign. They've been putting up posters that included NFC chips that would transfer ebooks, music, or other free content to a late-model Samsung smartphone when you tapped the phone to the poster.

The NFC chip in the cover of Meyer’s book works in a similar fashion. It allows book browsers to watch an interview of Meyer. All they have to do is tap the book with their NFC-equipped smartphone.

This is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure what it would be good for beyond marketing the book. As I see it, a link or a QR code would be as useful to someone who had already bought the book, so about the only way an NFC chip would be more useful would be to get the attention of someone browsing in a bookstore. That potential customer would be much more likely to tap their smartphone to the book cover than they would scan a QR code (it's easier).

But as interesting as this idea is, I'm not sure there's any reason to pursue it. More and more retailing shifts online and the average time a book spends on a store shelf is dropping, so I'm not sure there's real value to tricks like this. It feels more like a once off trick which might be used for specific titles that get a lot of marketing support but might not be so useful for the many other books published every year.


About Nate Hoffelder (11466 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on How to Add Digital Content to a Paper Book

  1. Has anyone noticed: the title and cover make it look like it’s trying to be the next Harry Potter series… What’s next? Steve Jobs and the Order of the iPad? Steve Jobs and the Prisoner in the iPhone?

  2. I try to keep an open mind but having seen so much technology come and go at CES over the years, with most of it never sticking, this strikes me as an engineering idea that does not solve any critical user needs. Trying to attach the disruptive new to the shrinking old is always a near-term, unsustainable idea. Remember those early 1990 “Hybrid merchanding” ideas like shrinkwrapping a CD-ROM with a physical book? (The funny part about that was the book lover could not open the shrinkwrapped book to read it!) Doah.

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