Goosebottom Books aim to be so entertaining that kids read and learn more without even realizing it. At a time when publishing and profits seem to have parted ways, such a mission sounds downright idealistic. So when Trigger Global (a mobile innovation agency) suggested building AR into a core book experience, Goosebottom saw an opportunity to do something revolutionary.
Conventional wisdom holds that technology takes kids’ attention away from reading or provides trivial benefits over paper. Challenging those assumptions, Goosebottom’s new title would use AR to draw kids back to the page. As a vehicle for edutainment, it would be a natural extension of Goosebottom’s portfolio. It could even point the way to a future for print publishing that respects and revives book traditions for a tech-connected generation.
Horrible Hauntings: An Augmented Reality Collection of Ghost and Ghouls features 10 historical ghost stories for ages 9 and up by award-winning author Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrator William Maughan. It has become the first-ever Goosebottom title written with AR as part of the core experience. Fun to read on its own, the accompanying mobile app adds a layer of ghostly fun to the book that ignites readers’ imaginations in a whole new way. Not just a gimmick, the AR experience deepens the reading experience and creates an experience like none other. Shirin Yim Bridges, award-winning author and Head Goose of Goosebottom Books commented, "For booksellers, there’s relief that something out in the digital world can drive sales back to printed books."
The Vuforia platform’s robust capabilities enabled Trigger to create unique AR experiences for each ghost in the book. Compatibility with Unity enabled 3D characters to come to life with animation and particle effects, streamlining the need to develop native code. Vuforia’s solid tracking solution was another essential element in the performance necessary for target recognition in the lush, painted illustrations. Goosebottom got extra miles from the book’s 3D assets by activating them in the book’s marketing posters. From bookstore point-of-advertising and point-of-sale to the at-home product experience, Horrible Hauntings got noticed.
According to Goosebottom Books, within weeks of its release, Horrible Hauntings exceeded their expectations:
- Record-breaking pre-sales for Goosebottom Books
- Nationwide media attention
- Children’s Choices Award 2013, International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council
- Best Children's Book award at the Halloween Book Festival 2012
- Positive reviews on parent blogs
As for the bigger questions of literacy, Horrible Hauntings also won over tech-wary librarians and booksellers, who recognized it as the first use of technology to bring kids back to the experience of physical books. Jason Yim, Trigger’s owner, president and creative director, said, "We really wanted to play off this idea that the ghosts are emerging through the printed page and into your room, and you could really only do that with Vuforia."
Readers of all ages have demonstrated its crossover appeal. Goosebottom and Trigger have proven that AR isn’t a replacement for traditional books — it's a new entry point for reluctant readers to become avid learners. They envision a future where AR is incorporated into more books from the beginning, creating truly innovative and interactive reading experiences that invigorate the traditional print and publishing industry. Yim continued, "This is not just a combination of print and digital. It gives a unique experience that is actually better than the sum of its parts."