subway-station-qr-libraryHere’s an update on a story we covered last year, about a Romanian company developing a way to display your e-books with digital bookshelf wallpaper. Web Urbanist has some great pictures of the Bucharest train station and its dramatic new wallpaper display listing hundreds of books with QR codes linking each to an on-line e-book store.

I’m surprised that this idea isn’t seeing wider use by now. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets with cameras, this could be a great way for both libraries and bookstores to bring their digital catalogs into the real world. Why bother with the added expense of putting in and maintaining physical vending machines to lend physical library books when you could put up an e-book catalog with wallpaper for just the cost of printing?

A QR code is basically just a URL, a bookmark given physical form. The great thing about it is that it could link to systems that are already in place. Many public libraries already have e-book checkout via their web sites, for example. As for bookstores, why not give that lackluster sales partnership with Kobo a kick by actually putting up a display of digital books that people could actually browse the same way they could browse the physical shelves?

It wouldn’t even necessarily have to be permanent wallpaper. Print it on something like contact paper that you could change out every month to highlight a new selection of your content. Put it up in formerly-wasted space, like entrance hallways or even your bathrooms. Give people something interesting to look at on the inside of toilet stall doors, or while they’re standing at the urinal. Why not?

It would certainly be a more useful thing to do with QR codes than printing them on dice.


  1. So they’re back at Piaţa Victoriei with this experiment. And just like last time they put their wallpaper along a passageway where people rush back and forth to catch a connection, and have no reason to dawdle. I’ve walked past the virtual library countless times last time, and never stopped for exactly this reason, even though I wanted to. Next to the platforms would be a much better place, but those spots are always taken up by conventional ads.

    Of course, the biggest problem is that (from what little I could see in a hurry) they offer books I couldn’t care less about, illustrating once more the complete disconnect between publishers and the younger readers who are liable to know what a QR code is and scan one.

    Not that I travel much by metro anymore. Oh well.

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