Publisher Simon & Schuster is one of those corporations. They’re putting QR codes on the back cover of their new releases. Why? They figure people will scan them, visit their website, and maybe sign up for a newsletter which they’ll get by email.
Yeah, good luck with that.
S&S does get props for their attempts to mix offline and online readers. They have a number of excellent, book related mobile apps and according to PaidContent, 26% of their sales are now digital. Nice, but I still don’t see how the QR code fits into the mix.
Scanning a QR code is a pain. You have to have a reader on your phone, you need to line it up all pretty, then wait to be taken to the web address and often what you get isn’t worth the wait. I’ve seen people say it beats typing in a web address and I suppose that’s true to some extent. Still, it’s a lot of steps, to get you someplace you don’t really want to be in the first place.
Now, if they were to use QR codes to lead me to additional content, like a download of a free story or a chance to win a bunch of free books, but it doesn’t appear that way. Once again, it’s a big company using a little box in order to drive traffic to their website for their gain, not yours.
Look, mobile technology has the potential to deliver innovative digital content at the press of a button. Sadly, many companies are still using it as a glorified internet remote control. I’m not expecting holographic images of my favorite literary characters (but how cool would it be if we could do that) but I do expect a true reward in return for my attention and my email address. Is that really too much to ask?