In my grandad’s days, a book was all that was required (and all that he had) for both entertainment and learning. But I and others like me have definitely progressed (debatable). We now own smartphones, e-readers, smart TVs, tablets, and computers. Thanks to innovation in personal tech.
And we use them extensively – every minute of our lives. The way we consume media has seen a big transition. Thanks to platforms like Youtube, Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, SoundCloud, and Amazon, we now prefer a mix of all forms of media to entertain ourselves – video, audio, and text. I am not even getting into virtual reality – which is the current rage right now – and frankly, overwhelming.
One would think – with all this progress in personal tech and change in consumer behavior – the future of printed books must be bleak.
But that’s far from the truth right now. A good chunk of book lovers will choose a hard copy over Amazon Kindle any day. That’s awesome, isn’t it?
It is. But you (authors and book publishers) should do their part too to participate in this changing consumer trend. In addition to text, you must include other forms of rich media to keep their readers engaged – even those who still love books.
So what options do you have? Apart from generating e-books for e-readers, there is another technology that can help – QR Codes.
Quick Response Codes (or QR Codes) are square-shaped barcodes that store information such as text or URLs. Smartphone owners can scan these QR Codes and view rich content such as webpages, videos, music, and other forms of media.
QR Code is an alternative to URLs. Instead of manually typing a lengthy webpage address or searching your content via Google, a reader can quickly scan the QR Code and access the content.
But how can you use QR Codes to provide a much better experience to your readers? Or better yet, how can you use QR Code to acquire new readers? Keep reading – you are about to find out.
A. How to acquire new readers
I often browse aisles in bookstores searching for a good book. Trust me – there are many more like me.
Here are a few ways you can help (or rather persuade) me to buy your book:
1. Show a book trailer using a QR Code
Everybody loves to see a movie trailer. A trailer can easily persuade people to look forward to a movie. This is why authors and book publishers now have trailers for books too.
The book trailer of ‘As Dead As It Gets’ by Katie Alender has over 5 million views on Youtube. Imagine how many people were influenced to purchase the book by seeing the trailer.
But how do you show a trailer if someone is browsing an aisle of a bookstore? You add a QR Code on your book.
When this QR Code is scanned by the interested reader, it will open the trailer on her smartphone.
2. Make it easy for readers to get book reviews
I search for books in bookstores. But never have I bought a book without a recommendation or before reading a review on Goodreads or Amazon. If I pick up a book, I will read a review online. So make it easy for me to find the reviews.
Add a QR Code on the back cover of the book that leads me directly to the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.
To achieve this, you simply need a Website QR Code.
3. Engage readers better during promotional campaigns
You probably have book launches, bookstore readings, and other promotional campaigns to promote your books. These are events that you personally attend and no doubt – it works well. But what about bookstores that you don’t visit? How can you engage your readers with just your books?
How about this – add a QR Code to your book, which when scanned, plays an audio file. The audio will be you reading the first chapter. Or if they scan the QR Code, they can get limited edition cool stuff like wallpapers, etc.
If you are creative, you can come up with your own ways of engaging your potential readers. Not just on books – you can add these QR Codes on other promotional material as well – newspaper/magazines ads, wall posters, and bookstore decals.
4. Share your complete profile
You don’t just want people to purchase and read your books. You want them to connect with you. You want them to follow you so that they buy your next book too. That’s why its important they know who you are. What is your own story? What is your dog’s name?
Well you can’t really put all that in your book. That’s not why they bought this one. But you can put a QR Code, which leads them to the author’s profile. If you have a profile on Author Central or Goodreads, add the page URL into a QR Code and put it on your book cover.
B. How to engage readers when they read
Let’s say I have bought your book. I have 500 pages of text to read. What can you do to make these 500 pages a little more colorful and interactive. You don’t want me to get bored and log on to Netflix.
Here are a couple of tips to engage readers while they are reading your book:
1. Online engagement, forms, and tests for self-help books
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Do these look familiar? They should. They are an integral part of self-help books. Self-help books typically have self-assessment exercises and reference charts. Instead of making the reader use a paper and pen, let them use their smartphones.
Simply provide a QR Code that leads them to an online form. They enter the data and get results immediately. No self-scoring required. Plus you get the data which you can use to refine your research – obviously with their permission.
Or you can allow them to save a reference chart on their phone or print it using their phone. No one wants to tear a page from a book.
2. Get readers to Tweet quotes
You write well. And sometimes, you come up with epic lines. Like this:
Words like these deserve to be shared. And shared on Twitter with a mention of you and link on Amazon to purchase the book.
When I read, I want to tweet. It’s easy on a Kindle. Not so much in a book. So help me. Add a Twitter QR Code so that I can easily scan and share. I get followers and so do you. We both win.
C. What to do when readers are done reading
I have just finished reading your book. I loved it. I am still in that universe you created for me. I have so many questions and so much more to add. So help me.
Here are some ways you can get more traction for your book from your existing readers:
1. Connect readers with each other
Book lovers love to discuss books. That’s why book clubs exist. So make it easy for your readers (who have just completed your book) to join a conversation about your book with other readers. Heck you can join in too sometimes.
Add a QR Code on the last page of your book that leads readers to a discussion forum of your choice. The more the readers discuss with each other, the better the chances of building a community of readers to like your books.
2. Get them to follow you on Social Media
Another way of building a community is via social media. Give readers the option of following you on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.
Simply use the Social Media QR Code for this. When scanned this QR Code opens up a mobile page that has links to all your social media profiles. The reader can choose her favourite social media to follow you on.
I know what you are thinking – these are a lot of QR Codes that can go on my book. How do I choose one? Choose the one that matters to you most. Are you a relatively new author and need to acquire readers? Go with options in A. If you write self-help books, go with B.
The point is there is a lot you can do with QR Codes to connect better with your readers. So figure our your business objectives and get started.
Create a QR Code for your book