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How Can Publishers Best Use NFC Chips in Books?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief’

Today’s feature story looks at the potential of QR codes and NFC chips to enhance book discoverability in the future. Noted in the story is a reference to Barnes and Noble’s recent announcement about the possibility of embedding an NFC chip reader into their NOOK devices (NFC stands for Near Field Communications). In turn, this presumes publishers would be willing to go through the, albeit minor, expense of embedding each book with a simliar device. The intent, says the bookseller, is to enable readers to immediately use their NOOK to browse in a bookstore and glean information about a title to their reader.

The potential for such implementation is vast — for starters, it would likely enable the stores to carry significantly less inventory on hand under the assumption that many readers will opt for the lower-cost digital edition. And of course, NFC chips — as do RFID — also offer several advantages to bookstores in terms of being able to keep better track and verify inventory on hand. In short, should publishers implement NFC chips, it’s a win on the bookseller’s side.

Of course, there’s no reason that Amazon couldn’t do the same and embed a similar NFC chip reader into their Kindles. And there are already rumors swirling that the iPhone 5 will contain such a chip to enable the use of the phone as a mobile wallet.

For publishers NFC chips offer them advantage of allowing them to take much of the digital promotional material off the internet and cloud and into the bookstore. Going forward, should publishers adopt this strategy, how can they best implement it? How would you like to see this new technology used?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered when p-books and e-books will converge. It’s beginning to happen in the movie industry with downloadable movie redemption. Use a code from your physical DVD to download the movie.

    Scanning a book with a NFC-enabled e-reader/smartphone/tablet and matching it up with a receipt number could allow folks to download the digital copy of a book they just bought. And since NFC chips have unique identifiers, you can ensure the copy isn’t downloaded twice.

    I hope we’re on the verge of this. It just kills me to have to choose between physical or digital, when we all know the ebook should be paired up with a physical copy.

  2. Allison P.
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I wonder, with brick-and-mortar retail outlets for books closing down in different countries, is this really something worth investing in? I doubt it.

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