QR codes are one of those things that we've all seen, but nobody knows what they are called. They are becoming ubiquitous in our society, and have already become so in Japan where they first gained prominence. They are in magazines, on billboards, at conferences or other events, printed on mailers, and countless other media that cross our paths on a daily and weekly basis. So, what do these things look like?
Take a look to your left, and you'll see an example of a QR code. If you've got a smart phone (any kind, as long as it has a camera), all you need to do is to download a barcode scanning app (they should be free) that supports QR codes (not sure, but I'm betting most do), and then scan the code to the left. Yes, it's an active code that works - it will take you to the Amazon page for my short story titled "The Collection".
Sure, you're thinking, that's nice and all, but why should I care? What could this possibly have to do with me being an indie author? Answer: plenty!
First, grasp the concept that you can create these three-dimensional barcodes for FREE. That's right, there are plenty of websites out there that will create these for you for nothing. Plus, people can download the app for interpreting these barcodes for FREE. Being free makes it easy for people to spread these far and wide and come up with uses that no one has yet thought of.
The second thing that you need to realize is that you can create QR codes to go to virtually any website that you want. I made mine in less than a minute, and it goes to my short story on Amazon, but you can have yours go anywhere: to your blog site, to Amazon/Smashwords/Barnes & Noble/etc. where your books are sold, Goodreads, you name it. The sky is truly the limit on where you have these QR codes take someone.
Along with this is the fact that you MIGHT want to have one (or more) of these QR codes in your book or short story. Where would you have them take someone? Why to your author page on Facebook so that you can gain more fans? What about sending them to your other book that you wrote so that they can purchase that since they liked the book they have in their hands? What if you wanted to link to a book trailer on YouTube? Your website? Twitter page? Author central on Amazon? If you can dream it, you can send them there!
Now here's the really cool part, where things explode exponentially. QR codes can actually do so much more than just take people to a website. They could bring people to a Google map location. They can launch a user's email client and pre-load a "To" address and "Subject" line. They can even be used to place a call! Now what could you use them for? Suddenly, you could make a very interesting, very interactive experience for a reader of your plain ol' ebook or print book!
So start having a little fun with QR codes and your writing. Maybe you'll decide to exchange "QR Links" with fellow authors so that you are cross-promoting to gain new fans. Maybe you'll make the first interactive ebook that responds to a user's inputs. Who knows, but it sure is fun to dream, isn't it? I'm not sure if I'll use any of these ideas myself, but it would be awesome to see them implemented. How might YOU use your QR codes?