November 9, 2008

Smelly Books

Original Post from September 13th 2007.

A reference to CafeScribe I heard on the Buzz-Out-Loud (a CNET podcast) leads me to talk about books and smells...

Feedback on book reading (and in fact a broader set of book related activities like collecting, displaying, browsing, sharing etc) is consistent on the importance of non-visual aspects on the overall experience, including sound, touch and smell!

CafeScribe "sends each of its customers scratch-n-sniff stickers with e-book orders in order to give them a musty book smell."

Other studies show the desire for some physical artifact associated with a book people are reading. This can serve as a link/reminder to the memories associated with it's content, or when it was read ("I read this on that holiday in...."), to let others know what you are reading, what you have read, and to display your interests (in reading and beyond) via a bookshelf.

Other products (DVD's come to mind) make a deliberate play on the package for the disk, that is bigger than necessary to reflect it's value and as a place to show "cover art" and as a means to display it in a cabinet. Games for PlayStation, XBox, Nintendo all do the same, even when the game itself is on a very small cartridge.

So, why not also with eBooks? They could either come with some "dummy" package that didn't contain the eBook per se (but maybe some leaflet like a CD or DVD has), or it could have a link or "handle" to the digital on-line content (bar code, etc) or it could have the content in some electronically transferable form (memory spot comes to mind), or have a physical cartridge inside (like games) that is plugged into the eReader (either to transfer its contents, or to hold the contents for the duration of reading).

If you're in a hurry maybe you buy online the eBook and the package comes in the post, or can be picked up later at a book store (a great way to get you to enter a real shop and buy some more!).

If an eBook did come "in", or associated with, some physical packaging then why not scent it to help reproduce that "booky" smell?
Either one initial "load" that is strong on first opening but that diminishes over time (like the new car smell in cars...) or a surface inside that get's lightly scratched on each opening to stimulate a little smell?

In short, increasingly I think that books are more complicated than first appear ("don't judge a book by it's cover!") and that cracking them will take a comprehensive and subtle approach beyond downloading a file off a web page.......


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