There are a few serious companies participating in the the virtual reality space. Facebook has Oculus, Samsung has Gear VR, there is also Sony Playstation VR and Google Cardboard. At the upcoming Frankfurt Bookfair, virtual reality is going to be heavily marketed towards publishers.
Taiwanese artist Jimmy Liao’s picture book, All of My World Is You, will come to life once visitors slip on a VR headset that will allow them to interact with the main character, a mysterious young girl, and complete challenges to make her smile.
In the spotlight as guest of honor is the literary culture and language of Flanders and the Netherlands, who have created three separate VR experiences, including one allowing users to alternate between the perspectives of a father and his nine-year-old daughter who are mourning the loss of a family member.
“Literature exists not just on the page,” said Suzanne Meeuwissen of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, a co-initiator of the projects, pointing to recent Nobel Literature Prize winner Bob Dylan as an example.
Educational publishers are also tapping into new technology, from textbooks that can be made interactive with the help of an app to 3D print-outs of organs to use in biology lessons.
In the “Classroom of the Future”, visitors can watch students and teachers try out the latest innovations.
Publishers will have be asking themselves if being first to market is worth the risk. Madefire is currently the only company that has brought comic books to VR, but the platform has ample opportunity for new forms of story telling. For example, what if a major publisher decided to develop an immersive story where the player is the main protagonist and the entire VR experience is playing out the story from the players prospective? Do not discount education and being able to dive into the human body in a biology class or dive into our solar system and get a sense of scale. The possibilities for new forms of storytelling, education and discovering new books will be a huge part of the VR experience and right now nobody is doing anything in this space. Frankfurt 2016 seeks to address this issue.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.