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Is it a book? Is it a game? Perhaps that doesn’t matter because it is Harry potter. When I read about JK Rowling’s latest book being a magical treat with Sony’s addition of augmented reality, I felt mine and every reader’s dream is finally coming true.Can you imagine the sounds and visuals of a gripping book coming out alive?
I guess I jumped to conclusions too soon.
The Book of Spells is the first in the series of titles for Sony’s “Wonderbook” which claims to be the “reinvention of the storybook” It does look like a book but the similarity ends there. First of all, when you open it, instead of normal text, you’d find this:
“The closest a Muggle can come to a real spell book”, JK Rowling
No, the images above are not magical Runes- the cryptic language of wizards, but very much the technology of “muggles” that brings magic close to reality. These are augmented reality codes overlaid on the book pages that are detected by the PlayStation eye (the webcam device for the PlayStation)which in turn displays the actual content of the page on your TV screen.Would you call holding the book in hand and staring into the TV as “reading”?
To add more interactivity, the PS3 controller is to be used as a “wand” to practise all those harry potter spells “ wingardium leviosa”,” expelliarmus” that will be taught in the course of the book. And this is where I seriously began to reconsider calling the book of spells a book. Doesn’t it look more like a PS3 peripheral device to give a new kind of gaming experience rather than futuristic book that enhances reading experience? Given the phenomenal success of Harry Potter books maybe calling it as a book makes more marketing sense. But then, are Harry potter fans so crazy to buy a $300 PS3 only to experience the book of spells? Or even, how many of PS3 enthusiasts would be the Harry potter enthusiasts to go and buy this peripheral costing $40?
New technologies and marketing gimmicks to push paper book reading go out of fashion?
With increase in consumer ebook sales in the UK by 366% last year, ebooks are now equivalent to 6% of physical book sales by value. And according Bloomberg Business week, IDC, a research company that tracks technology sales, boosted its estimate for global tablet shipments in 2012 by 21 percent to 106.1 million. The numbers indicate how technology is gradually seeping into consumer’s lifestyle.But the big question is, can technology by all means kill our love for good old paper books or replace the feeling of holding a physical book?
Can any augmented reality, however potent be it, replace our imagination powered by simply reading the text? What do you say? Will you trade your bookshelf for a tab full of ebooks or a game full of wonderbooks? Maybe you won’t but what about your kids?Are we the last generation who appreciate the essence of a physical paper book? Would kids born in the ipad culture, who grow up surrounded by technology, never know what it feels like to read an actual book?
Finally my request to the futuristic book, never get invented.