Paving the Way for Smart Books

The next evolution of ebooks is going to be something a bit more interactive.  Think of  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which got profiled by Alexis Madrigal over at The Atlantic. It seems obvious, but it’s worth noting.

The decision to have a book be different from its “smartbook” however, seems like a foolish gambit. It’s an obvious move by publishers to think there should be some differentiation between the book they sell digitally and the book they sell in paper, but really it just points out how much more functionality digital books could have if publishers simply went for it.

Atria is publishing its first book to be equipped with a smart chip, the publisher announced Friday. Tapping the RFID-enabled sticker with an NFC-enabled smartphone will bring up a website with additional materials for the book. The debut smart book is “The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy” by Gary Schwartz. Appropriate.

The smart book allows the physical book to become interactive for both the book buyer and the book browser, Judith Curr, Atria’s executive vice president and publisher, said in a statement. “The reader can tap to rich interactive content on their phone. The goal is to engage the consumer and start a permission-based two-way relationship that may lead to the sale of this book or further sales in this category of interest.”

The interesting thing about this take is that it seems to be a way for the publisher to try to sell the potential book-buyer on the book using interactive content. This buyer is someone who is browsing in a bookstore, sees the book and taps the sticker on the book without being obliged to purchase it. Now there is additional online marketing pizzazz convincing them to buy the book.

It’ll be great when books and television channels have the same interactivity that native apps on the iPhone/iPad have.

Bonus: The New York Times’ profile of the Room to Read charity is highly recommended. [New York Times]

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