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Augmented Books Embrace The Gray Space Between Print And Digital

Balloons
A book + iPad + popUp project

For quite some time, publishing companies thought they were safe from the digital tidal wave that ruined the music industry and is now threatening Hollywood studios. Our fondness, as readers, for the printed format and the reputation of old, well-established publishers was supposed to protect writers and those who work hard to publish them. Yet, finding a sustainable and profitable economic model that incorporates both print and digital content is already a rising concern for newspaper and magazine publishers, who are experimenting with various models to promote their online editorial content (free, half-free, “freemium," coupled subscriptions). Especially with the growing momentum of digital tablets and various “ebooks” (such as Amazon’s Kindle), many publishers feel threatened by the technological tools that might overthrow them.

In order to postpone the day when it will be possible to download bootlegged digital versions of books on Mediafire, some publishing companies have organized and launched legal digital ebook catalogues in partnership with legit online booksellers. Other firms are trying to invent a “happy medium,” a fearless, fruitful, and more innovative niche, between printed books and digital tools, forging an alliance that transcends commercialization strategies, changing the content of the books themselves.

French publisher Éditions Volumiques explores the possible ways of tying multiple formats together by inventing hybrid formats that combine electronic or digital tech and good old paper, glue and ink. In this regard, their augmented books look like enhanced modern versions of those large children’s books with folded pages, carved animals, 3D calligraphies and the like. But their ambition exceeds the mere pleasure of creating beautiful objects, as they describe themselves as a “publishing house focusing on the paper book as a new computer platform, as well as a research lab on book, (computational) paper, reading and their relation to new technologies.” The key issue here is interactivity as well as their technique, which blurs the boundaries between books, moving images and video games.

Below is a selection of their most interesting projects to date, but we strongly invite you to check their Website and their Vimeo as they are quite prolific and always coming up with new ideas:

Labyrinthe

Book prototype with multiple combinatorial reading possibilities. On each page, choose between three new options to move the story along… 729 in all.

Pirate

Adventure board game that uses a phone as an interactive pawn. The smartphone becomes a marine vessel, sailing adventurously into the ocean, while keeping track of its past feats. It’s playable solo, in a group or online.

The night of living dead pixels / prototype 2

Graphic novel with multiple outcomes revealed through a folding system. Use a smartphone to track your movement through the book, and trigger the video component at the end via QR code.

Duckette

Prototype for a paper video game that uses reactive inks to make shapes dynamically appear and disappear on the paper. A tiny joypad allows one to play with the duck and open the door to the next page.

Le livre qui disparaît [The book that disappears]

Book prototype that you can read for only 20 minute before the paper starts to turn black.