The Zappar team has spent this week at the London Book Fair – one of the largest publishing industry get-togethers in the world – talking to publishers and authors about how augmented reality and publishing can work together.

Max Dawes, Partnerships Director, Zappar

The Zappar team has spent this week at the London Book Fair – one of the largest publishing industry get-togethers in the world – talking to publishers and authors about how augmented reality and publishing can work together.

We’ve learnt a lot about where AR works well for publishers (and where it doesn’t work so well) over the past four years. And as we get ready to launch one of the biggest publishing projects we’ve ever worked on – the new children’s book by Hollywood legend Carl Reiner – we thought now was a good time to summarise three key ways we’ve discovered augmented reality can work for publishers …

1. Augmented reality can add value for your readers

Successful AR provides something readers can’t get just on the page itself. For works of fiction, AR is best at bringing the book’s narrative to life. For non-fiction, it’s best at serving additional information and content.

We think of AR as being like a digital Kinder Egg for readers – it should surprise and delight them in the same way. And if it’s good-quality content, we know it adds value that readers will come back for again and again. On average people play with each of our zaps 3 times, for over 75 seconds, as they repeatedly try out the content and show it to their friends and family.

2. Augmented reality can engage children in reading

“Immersive” is an over-used word in the marketing and technology industries these days, but AR can truly make books an immersive experience. As Carl Reiner said about the content we’ve brought to life for his story, “By using the Zappar app, not only do you read the book but you'll be in the book… it will open a whole new world for you to get involved, really involved”.

That sense of entering the story is especially powerful for a young audience today. We all want children to develop a love of reading. In today’s world – where most toddlers will learn how to swipe and press touch-screen devices before they even learn how to read – we think integrating digital technologies with printed pages is a great way to build a love for books. It spurs their imagination in the same way as watching a story on TV does. In our view, anything that gets kids excited about picking up a book can only be a good thing.

3. Augmented reality can join up your marketing campaign

AR isn’t just another reason for a reader to buy a book. It can also be part of the way publishers promote the book.

Used effectively, AR should actually join up all the disparate elements of a promotional campaign – it can tie together the ads and posters (in-store and out of home) with the physical book itself. Just as movies have trailers, so books can have teaser content that comes to life through AR and links all of the promotional material together through a single creative mechanic.

We’ve delivered a project like this for Hachette and no.1 international bestselling children’s author Robert Muchamore. For the first instalment of his Rock War series we developed a campaign bringing together the book, promotional bookmarks, in-store posters, six-sheet posters and online. To our minds this kind of activity is the future of publishing promotions.

These are lesson we’ve learnt over the past few years working for a range of publishers. For us, AR is all about complementing their printed product. Or as Carl himself put it: “These guys at Zappar – they’re not selling technology, they’re selling opportunity to the publishing industry.”

Pre-order The Secret Treasure of Tahka Paka by Carl Reiner here.