2D Barcodes and What They Mean to You

Josie Leavitt -- May 4th, 2010

Maybe I’m behind the times, but I’ve just learned about 2D barcodes. I’ve been noticing these odd-looking barcodes on more and more books every day. At first I  wondered what these things were, I was busy shelving and not paying much attention, until today. I was shelving SuperFreakonomics and the 2D barcode finally caught my eye.

First you must have a “smart phone” and a free or 99 cent app to get the reader to work. I have an iPhone so I downloaded my app and took a picture of the barcode. I wasn’t expecting much, but then I was blown away. The photo of the barcode led me to a web page that was all about SuperFreakonomics. It was as exhilarating and it was creepy. Everything you’d want to know about the book was right there, in less than two seconds. Can’t bother to read the back of the book? Just download the barcode and you’ve got a multi-media bononza awaiting you on your phone.

Want to read the author’s blog? Just scroll down. Want to know where to buy the book, and compare prices with Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound and Powell’s, that’s just another click away. You can even take a quiz to find out if you’re a “SuperFreak.”  It’s like a toy version of the book. All the cool features of a promotional website, but you don’t have to be a computer to get there. It’s genius and it scares the heck out of me.

Lauren Conrad’s book, L.A. Candy, has very interactive content aimed at the adolescents the book is marketed for. There are video clips, hair and make-up pages, links to her other books, and of course, a buy the book page. Of course Amazon is listed first because these lists are always alphabetical. It sort of makes me wish the ABA had named Indiebound, All About Indies so it would show first on these lists and not after Borders, but I digress.

I think 2D barcodes are here to stay and I suspect we’ll see them on more and more books, especially books for Young Adults.  I think what’s seemingly a gadget right now, will be the wave of the future. I haven’t decided if being able to access all sorts of a book before you buy is a good thing, or if it will spoil the reader’s enjoyment of the book.

I’ll let everyone know once I’m done taking the SuperFreak quiz.