What Can Publishers Learn from Pokémon Go?
Long considered nothing more than a gimmicky fad, it turns out that augmented reality (AR) is actually alive and well. At least that’s the case when it’s associated with a brand as large as Pokémon.
By now you’ve undoubtedly heard all the Pokémon Go stories and maybe you’ve even dodged a player or two, overly-focused on their phone while embarking on a virtual hunting expedition. On the surface it’s nothing more than another time-wasting game but I believe it offers some very important lessons for publishers.
Let’s start with the hybrid, print-plus-digital opportunity. Recent reports indicate ebook sales have plateaued and growth has shifted back to the print format. There are a number of underlying reasons for these trends including higher ebook prices as well as the adult coloring book phenomenon. But as I’ve said before, publishers need to stop thinking about print and digital as an either/or proposition. Some customers prefer print while others lean towards digital. Many readers are in both camps, switching between print and digital based on genre, pricing, convenience, etc.
Stop and think about how something like Layar could be used to bring your static pages to life. Maybe you publish how-to guides, print is your dominant format, and you’ve always wondered how you could integrate videos with the text. You’ve tried inserting urls but very few readers bother typing them in. QR codes are an option but they’re clunky and take up precious space on the page. Why not use AR to virtually overlay those videos on the page without having to dump in a bunch of cryptic-looking urls or QR codes?
Are you looking to engage your readers in the book’s or author’s social stream? Here’s your chance to integrate them virtually using a platform like Layar.
Better yet… have you always wanted to know who all those nameless, faceless consumers are who bought your print book from third-party retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Here’s an opportunity as a publisher or author to initiate a conversation directly with your readers. Add an Easter egg to the print edition where readers can receive a reward via an AR-powered offer; you will, of course, ask for each reader’s name and email address before handing out those rewards.
This approach to marrying digital to print is totally unobtrusive. Print readers who don’t want to bother with their phones can continue reading the book without interruption. Those customers interested in learning more, interacting with authors, or uncovering special publisher offers will likely see the value of connecting their phones with the printed page.
The possibilities are endless. So the next time you see a Pokémon Go player wandering aimlessly be sure to thank them for helping identify new ways of distributing, promoting, and enriching content.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.