'Look inside', 'sneak peak', 'try before you buy': online browsing perks upon which even the least tech-savvy amongst us have grown dependent. Often at the expense of the brick-and-mortar bookstore. Until now. Using the latest 'augmented reality' technology, Hodder Education has opened a new chapter in browsing history, bringing the convenience of digital to the bookshelf itself – and not a QR code in sight.
Simply pointing a smartphone or tablet at a book on the shelf will now grant customers instant access to exclusive content, author videos, fan testimonials and more to inform their selection. In partnership with augmented reality experts Aurasma, Hodder has harnessed image-recognition technology to interact with the book cover itself.
Download the 'Aurasma Lite' app – (it really is lite, downloads in a trice) – point your phone at the cover, and watch it come to life, (like this: http://bit.ly/H9i9oR). Once you've got the app you won't even need an internet connection – the experience is all in-app, ensuring custom remains with the bookseller. No surprise then that we've received fantastic support from both high-street chains and indies, who are actively promoting Aurasma in store: look out for how-to posters in your local indie and snazzy free bookmarks in Waterstones branches across the country.
The Aurasma app hosts all of our specially-edited content both on and offline. As a publisher we can hop in and out of our unique developer portal updating, amending and adding content whenever we're feeling creative and uploading new covers as fast as we can design them.
At Hodder Education we launched this new layer of our publishing with Michel Thomas's multi-million-selling language courses, providing customers in store with access to both free sample audio and exclusive video footage of Michel and his fans explaining the success of this world-renowned teaching method.
"Michel Thomas's audio courses are a natural fit for Aurasma's image-recognition technology," explains David Swarbrick, managing director of our Consumer Learning team. "His method is praised for the ease and speed with which you can assimilate new words and phrases in a foreign language, so the simplicity and immediacy of Aurasma complements the product perfectly. It's an ideal way for bookstore customers to try before they buy and unlock what's inside the box, and more – an option that was previously only available via online retailers."
No more must the bookstore junkie forgo the ease and breadth of the armchair browsing experience. No more will traditional booksellers rage at the emergence of a smartphone at the shelf, seemingly poised to direct their customers towards online competitors. Physical-book fans and high-street booksellers alike can now indulge in the best of both browsing worlds. All in store.
Hodder Education (Hachette UK) is the first publisher to partner with Aurasma, who, with over 3 million downloads since their launch in July 2011, are comfortable leaders in the augmented reality race. Needless to say the pipeline is packed full of ideas for integrating the technology into all sorts of other areas of our Consumer Learning list. We see great potential for image-recognition to enhance physical books between the covers, adding exciting interactivity and huge pedagogic value to our educational titles. Watch this space ... And in the meantime, grab a copy of Michel Thomas and try it out for yourself!
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