Pokémon Go and Book Publishing

Last week for work, I was at SIGGRAPH 2016, a conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques. In addition to companies sharing their products via booths, there were a lot of panels and presentations of peer-reviewed research in graphics and techniques.

Not surprisingly, a big chunk of the conference was dedicated to virtual reality (VR). One whole section was called Emerging Technologies, which featured VR eye-tracking technology, guidance methods in VR, and VR films (as well as robots, lighting displays, augmented reality, and more). But there was a feeling that VR is still a little too new, and while it’s cool to play around with, it’s not that wide-spread among consumers, or at least not yet.

What has become wide-spread, however, is augmented reality (AR). More specifically, the AR game Pokémon Go. As probably everyone knows by now, players in Pokémon Go walk around their neighborhoods and catch Pokémon with their phones. The game has proved to be super popular and super addictive.

According to Engadget, Pokémon Go has over 100 million downloads and earns about $10 million per day. What’s also especially impressive is the number of daily active users, which according to Forbes, surpassed the number of daily active users on Twitter in early July, and those users spent two times the amount of time in the game than on Snapchat.

So, not only are Pokémon Go players downloading the game, they are also actively using it every single day. In addition to playing to people’s sense of nostalgia and using new technology in a clever way (while successfully introducing cute characters to people previously unfamiliar with Pokémon), playing the game has a lot of benefits. Some people have lost weight with all the extra walking they’ve done in search of Pokémon. And the game is also meant to be social and encourage people to spend time outdoors together. The idea is to hang out in parks or bars or libraries or wherever with your friends or family and collect Pokémon together.

The game has been a big boost for some bookstores and libraries. According to Publisher’s Weekly, Poké Gym’s have attracted more people to some bookstores, where they end up buying a coffee or even some books. One store, Main Street Books in Charles, MO, is offering a 10% discount on purchases for customers who show a screenshot of a Pokémon they caught.

It’d be interesting to see some data on how many books people buy because of Pokémon Go, and what kind of books they buy. I’m sure at least a few bookstores are putting up Pokémon books on display, but maybe just the fact that people are in the store and browsing will help give people the opportunity to discover new genres.

Now may also be the perfect opportunity for indie writers who want to get their books in indie bookstores. As Nina Amir wrote on the The Book Designer, it’s good to research and fill a “hole” on the bookstore shelf. And books that are related to Pokémon or that are of interest to players of the game have an opportunity.

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