Augmented Reality to Combat eBooks

As eBooks are slowly eroding the pricing structure of physical books, publishing houses are looking for ways to make the book as an object more appealing.  The ideas of limited editions or signed copies are going to expand to gimmicks like augmented reality covers, or special content for hardcovers only.

The latest book in Jean Auel’s series about a woman surviving the time around the end of an ice age 30,000 years ago comes with a special sticker on the front that gives the buyer a special augmented reality experience.  The main character Ayla will come alive on the computer screen by the power of AR.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES concludes the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni — one of the Ninth Cave community’s spiritual leaders and healers.

Once again, Jean Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago, rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today’s news.

Will this AR add-on help convince a reader to purchase the hardcover rather than wait for a regular copy or download an e-version?  Probably not.  But it is another step in the expansion of my favorite new technology and for that, I cheer.

6 Responses

  1. How about a thriller where AR is an integral part of the plot used for revealing certain mysteries. I think that AR true potential is somewhere beyond just marketing gimmicks.

  2. I believe AR has a huge place in fiction, taking the cyberpunk genre into the real world. That’s why a lot of my novels are based around the technology.

    You can see my latest book here –

    I’ll have other books and short stories out in the coming years. Next one due to be published early summer and a few more later in the year.


  3. *makes note to check it out*
    ( The other advantage story telling wise with AR is you don’t have to invent reasons why “dieing in the game world kills you for real!” thats getting a bit of a tired troup in sci-fi for me)

    As for our world,
    It amaze’s me, however, the most obvious form of combing text and AR hasn’t been done; sound.
    3d mesh’s on markers are “the norm”, and can vary from bland to brillent.

    But surely sound suits the printed page much more? Then you can listen *as* your reading.
    Give a soundtrack based on the mood of the page/chapter.
    You’d need good fast page recognition, but not precise tracking, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

  4. Very astute of you Thomas, and that’s one reason why I enjoy AR as a story telling device. Hacking someone’s geospatial location and convincing them to walk off a building by hiding the world in ads and other virtual objects makes for an interesting assassin.

    And really, AR has so many other ways to help move a story forward. So far I’ve written five novels and twelve short stories/novelles in which AR has been used, to varying depths. I have another four or five planned, and maybe then, I’ll be bored of the technology from a story point of view, but probably not, as I keep finding new ideas and new ways to tell stories.

    Either way, The Digital Sea is only the first of many. Working with my publisher on a few more to put out this year. I’m really excited about the novel I just finished a few months ago, and expect it to be out late summer, should all go well with the process (copy-edits, galley proofs, cover art; all these things have taken more time than I thought they would!)


  5. Well, I’ll try to get find a copy then :)

    “. Hacking someone’s geospatial location and convincing them to walk off a building by hiding the world in ads and other virtual objects makes for an interesting assassin.”

    And thats exactly why I’m never going to have my future ar-spec overlays set to 100% opacity ! :P

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