Ulysses, War and Peace Turned into QR Barcodes

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

It’s a little difficult to envision how this would be useful, but it is quirky and kind of wonderful: Wonder-Tonic.com has converted a dozen classic novels, from Moby Dick to Ulysses, into QR barcodes. You can print out a page with the codes on them for each book — several hundred — and take it with you. Stuck in line, use your cell phone camera to scan the code and a browser will open with an 800 passage of the book.

They explain the project on theirĀ site this way:

Books2Barcodes is an ongoing effort to convert all the world’s great books to QR codes (2D barcodes). Each work featured here is the entire text of a piece of classic literature translated into several thousand barcodes. With a mobile device equipped with a camera and a barcode-scanning app, you can experience the joy of a great book as read through 800-character fragments on your cellphone.

You’ll need a mobile device with a barcode-scanning app. You can use Google Goggles, RedLaser, Zxing, or just about anything else. Just click one of the links on the left, then scan each barcode to get a piece of the book!

Longer books can take a while to download fully. Use a modern browser like Firefox or Chrome for the fastest experience.

We are a team of archivists, engineers, and library scientists working tirelessly to try to make the classics of yesterday accessible to today’s technology. Although the task of converting books to barcodes is difficult, time-consuming, and impossible to automate, we believe this cultural contribution is necessary, regardless of the logistical difficulties.

Question: Do you ever use QR codes?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.