There was an interesting announcement recently from Sterling, the book-publishing wing of Barnes & Noble. They will be launching a YA imprint called Splinter that will debut in January with at least one fantasy title, Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck, followed by four more books in the Tiger’s series.
New fantasy imprints are worth watching. Books published by a retailer are a trendy topic. But here’s what really raised my eyebrow:
“…all books will be released simultaneously in hardcover and e-book formats, and the print editions will be imbedded with TAG codes that will enable readers with smartphones to scan the codes to access Web-only material.”
The commitment to publish an e-book edition of every book simultaneously with the hardcover edition shows how legitimate the digital format has become. But what in blazes is a TAG code? Could they mean that those ugly QR Code blocks will be plastered throughout the book?
Obviously this is just a rough mock-up but it’s fun to imagine a book with web-content footnotes using a technology that’s becoming more and more common.
There could be links to interesting facts about the setting, video of the author explaining how a scene came to be, references to other books or movies that the reader might be interested in, pictures, recipes, or whatever. It would be just like an HTML-based book with hyperlinks!
We’re now seeing the first printed books that incorporate some of the capabilities of digital books. Only time will tell whether readers will come to expect hyperlinked content in all formats or if this is just the kind of weird experiment we see when people go a little nuts with a new technology.