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HarperCollins Unbound Bridges Print, Digital

unbound_headline_logo[1]Looking to find the least convenient way to integrate digital content into paper books, HC launched HarperCollins Unbound last month.

HC Unbound is a new, free app that is only available for Android smartphones and the iPhone (iPad users need not apply) which is intended to add bonus digital content to certain HarperCollins print books. The app officially launches today with two titles, The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond and You: The Owner’s Manual by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen.

Consumers can use the camera on their smartphone to scan the book’s pages for identifying marks, and once the marks are identified the HarperCollins Unbound app will play a related video – on a 4″ screen. You: The Owner’s Manual also includes 10 interactive quizzes to help readers engage deeper with the subject matter and test their knowledge.

unnamedThis app doesn’t appear to be available for any other platform, so I guess it is safe to assume that HarperCollins is only interested in smartphone owners. I’m not sure why they are targeting that niche, but I do wonder why HarperCollins couldn’t just print a URL which linked to the video and other content.

This app was produced by Shortcut Media, a specialist in interactive-print solutions. Shortcut has developed a specialized app that can recognize QR-code-like symbols in text and serve up links to additional digital content. It is similar in concept to the QR codes that S&S started adding to the backs of books last year, though it is obviously more specialized.


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flyingtoastr November 4, 2013 um 10:55 pm

Printing a URL increases friction drastically – requiring the reader to disengage completely from the book in order to look from the page to the screen repeatedly to type in a url, which even the slightest mistake can cause to break completely. Pointing a smartphone at a QR code (or what have you) is both far less error prone and far less intrusive.

As for targeting phones instead of tablets: marketshare. Two thirds of American adults own a smartphone, while tablet ownership is at best half of that.

fjtorres November 5, 2013 um 12:05 am

Least convenient?
Oh, I can think of one or two less convenient ways to enhance a book, but not many more.
It’s kinda like hitching a steam-powered motorcycle in front of a carriage instead of getting a model T. Just do a bookapp (of enhanced ebook) for the cellphone instead of trying to build an unwieldy (and doomed) chimera to try and prop up the static print edition.
I’ll come right out and say it is downright s-t-u-p-i-d.

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