By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Offices in Mumbai, Amsterdam, Seoul, Los AngelesAnother entry in the field of children’s books enhanced with augmented and virtual reality programming: A company called the Quantum Storey Company will exhibit at the Pepcom Digital Experience for media members and industry analysts in Las Vegas today (January 8), the eve of CES, a defining annual exhibition showcasing the latest consumer electronics and technology.
Quantum Storey’s presentation is about a series of titles the company characterizes as “the world’s first VR book series,” branded as Operation You. The series, according to a press statement, went into retail before the holidays at the United States’ in an exclusive arrangement at Walmart stores.
Of course, AR and VR enhancements for children’s books aren’t new. In Singapore, for example, SnapLearn offers AR and VR enhancements for book publishers. SnapLearn had its Frankfurter Buchmesse debut in October and in November its co-founding managing director Gerald Cai presented the technology and business model at Singapore’s StoryDrive Asia conference.
Another AR and VR company, Cyprus-based AmayaSoft produces English-language learning products based on Jo Rose’s Deer Little Forest brand. The Madrid-based publishing consultant Elisa Yuste told us about “mixed reading experiences” that use augmented and virtual reality techniques in such projects as Spellbound and Parramon’s Alice in Wonderland.
More such applications have been put forward by Ireland’s CleverBooks, Carlton Books’ Digital Magic Launchable, and Bonnier’s Supersaurs. Indeed, players in the industry have been discussing how easily augmented reality books for young readers can fall into gimmickry (Alice Bonasio, The Bookseller) and strategies for commercializing such work (Nicholas Lovell, author of The Curve).
On Texas Public Radio last July, a program looked at how teachers see potential in AR books but also worry about the technology being a distraction. In March 2016, we covered the work being done at Germany’s Carlsen Verlag in its LeYo! product line. In 2015, many of us were looking at AR content published by London’s Hodder & Stoughton for Jodi Picoult’s teen novel Off the Page. And here’s a story by Will Freeman at The Guardian, “How augmented reality builds bridge(s) between games and children’s books”–from March 2014.
Nevertheless, in a prepared statement, Quantum Storey founding CEO J.M. Haines is quoted, saying, “Virtual reality books are transformative and unlike anything the publishing industry has seen before. As consumer habits continue to evolve, so too does the demand for something revolutionary and out of the box.”
Descriptive copy provided to the press by Quantum Storey elaborates on details of the first title in the series.
“The Operation You series is written in the first person,” according to media material, “and supported by augmented and virtual reality, making it the perfect medium for readers to emotionally connect with the characters and storylines in an impactful way. The first Operation You title Morning Nightmare depicts the pitfalls and pressures experienced by children boarding the school bus.
“Each Operation You title enables the reader to build and strengthen essential skills in a safe virtual world, so they’ll be more prepared to make life decisions under the demands and social pressures of the real world.
“As middle readers turn the pages of the printed book, Ray, a major character in the series, invites them to download the free app, and use the included VR goggles to ‘Take the Quantum Leap’…Once in the book, readers experience what happens in the first person, as the primary character is …the reader. Dodge a snowball, will yourself to get on the school bus and find a seat, seek out courage as you learn to build trust–all through the wonders of VR.”
The company’s slogan is “Why just read a book when you can step inside?” Its home offices are in Hollywood and there are, according to press materials, offices also located in Amsterdam, Mumbai, and Seoul.
Quantum Storey’s promotional video for Operation You is embedded below: