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Will QR Codes Become the Standard for Enhancing Print Books?

By Edward Nawotka

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Quick Response Codes, better known as QR codes, are becoming increasingly commonplace in books, as publishers implement them as a means to offer extra digital information related to their print books (as in today’s feature story about Melville House’s HybridBooks).

The functionality of the codes isn’t in question — they do work, provided you have the right scanning software — and who would balk at getting supplemental information for free? The question about whether to use QR codes really comes down to aesthetics and the reading experience.

The codes are unattractive blotches, but provided they are discreet enough (often they are placed inside the copyright pages or on the back of the books), my belief is that they might become a standard means — but not the only menas — of offering supplemental material. One of the concerns is, if they proliferate inside the book, that these codes become a form of digital punctuation that ultimately draws readers’ eyes away from the text itself.

What’s more, do you know anyone who actively uses QR Codes on a day to day basis? I don’t.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted August 16, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Oddly, this is the fourth time I’ve scanned a QR code in as many days. Yes the issue is aesthetic but they will become increasingly common and that consideration will fade as we get used to them. I used to not know anyone who used Twitter…

  2. Posted August 16, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    For our transmedia project Lowlifes, we placed several QR codes at the end of certain book chapters. We explain how to scan them but not what you’ll get.
    They in fact link to video, audio and images that reveal a sub-plot.

    Hence, no reader is pushed to scan and access this content but if they do then their experience of the book is enhanced.

    So far our metrics show about 18% of readers scanning the QR codes to access the additional content.

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