People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them. That’s the idea behind Sorin Matei’s project, Ubimark, which embeds books with two-dimensional codes that work as hyperlinks when photographed.
So far there’s just one book available in English, Around the World in 80 Days, with the bar-like codes. (See a YouTube demo here.) A collection of scholarly essays in Romanian, Mr. Matei’s native language, will be available soon. Mr. Matei, an associate professor of communication at Purdue University, says that the initial book is just “an exercise in pushing the envelope as far as we can,” and that scholarly publications will be available in the future with the embedded feature.
When a reader of the book photographs a code accompanying a chapter, map, or illustration, a Web browser can use that image to link to a corresponding Web site. A chapter’s site might include a discussion forum; and a map’s site might link to a current or historical map of the location and include markers with readers’ annotations. For scholarly publications, codes might link to a page where authors answer readers’ questions.
Mr. Sorin understands that it seems a bit counterintuitive to build links into a print book instead of an e-book. Still, he thinks that people aren’t ready to abandon print quite yet.
“There’s a gap here of about 10 to 20 years that we need to fill in,” he says, “and it would be foolish if we didn’t try to.”