The Frankfurt Book Fair Explores Virtual Reality for Publishers

publishers, virtual reality, frankfurt book fairFrom the sold-out initial run of Oculus Rift to the New York Times now publishing stories in an “immersive format,” technology reporters and trend watchers are claiming that 2016 is the year of virtual reality (VR). In the arts and entertainment world, VR has been focused mostly in gaming, but, as a WIRED World in 2016 annual trends report noted earlier this year, it is on the rise in the film industry, as well, with Sundance Institute starting a residency program exclusively for VR-filmmakers.

As these filmmakers experiment with this technology, they are realizing the hurdles and the possibilities in how they are able to create and tell stories. One challenge for filmmakers is that movie-going tends to be a communal experience, whereas watching a film on a VR headset is a singular experience.

For readers, that isn’t the case, however, and perhaps there might be a greater consumer interest in this technology for a “reading” experience going forward. I put reading in quotes because, with VR, readers won’t necessarily be reading, which may pose an interesting hurdle for our own industry and the kind of content we will develop for the technology.

That is why, this year at the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 19-23), we will be featuring a series of talks that will explore how VR can be used in trade and academic publishing, share some success stories from the arts world, allow publishers to actually explore VR videos, and help publishers connect with those on the forefront of this new storytelling format to explore new ways of looking at content.

Two interesting sessions worth checking out are below:

Wednesday, October 19th, 1:15pm, THE ARTS+ Salon
Virtual reality has the potential to turn the creative business upside down. By being able to cut down on creation costs for illustrators or production and release time, or simply being able to create within an entirely new technology a world a writer has never dreamed of, VR has many potential applications for art and culture. VR experts will discuss their experiences, highlighting both the challenges and the successes.

Friday, October 21st, 2:30, THE ARTS+ Runway
For nonfiction or academic publishers who require images and videos alongside text, understanding the importance of creating these immersive 360-degree views for a changing consumer, as well as the ease in which you can use these technologies, will go a long way into moving digital publishing forward.

Ultimately, as Wired writer Oliver Franklin-Wallis notes, “VR cinema will only reach its potential if the medium can attract the quality of storytellers that cinema does.”

That may also be true for book publishing, but, just as with the rise of digital publishing, it is better for publishers to be aware of and prepared for changing consumer interests than to be surprised by them.

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One thought on “The Frankfurt Book Fair Explores Virtual Reality for Publishers

  1. Michael W. Perry

    I can understand why VR might be useful for teaching science, particularly chemistry, medicine and physics. But attempts to force it into entertainment is likely to meet with resistance from two groups of people.

    1. Those who want experiences created by others to remain separate from them. I’m one of those. I want to maintain detachment from movies for the same reason I remain detached from the crowd at a football game. I don’t want to it (the movie or the crowd) to control me. I like to watch on screens that don’t fill a wall. I never go with the flow of a crowd. And yes, I realize that there are people who feel exactly the opposite. They want to lose their personal identity. They have my pity but little else.

    2. Those who find any dramatization, large screen, 3-D, or VR, too overwhelming. All but the blandest of realities scare them. They do not like being scared and the greater “realism” that VR injects, the more upset they will become.

    There’s an additional factor that I realized when I think about my childhood in the 1950s. Why did my classmates and I spend so much time outdoors doing things? One reason was that there was so little else to do. TV meant three channels with few kids programs. Games mean board games, which quickly bore.

    Nor are children growing up the only ones adversely impacted by our increasing entertainment options. A generation ago, people often sought work because it was more interesting than sitting on a porch watching cars go by. Now work has to compete with the thousands of movies on Netflix. You see the result in the rising numbers of people not trying to find work and even feigning disability to not have to work. That cannot be good in the long-term. This scene from the movie Wall-E is a depressing illustration of where that might lead. Notice that its adults have the features of small children. They’ve been infantilized.

    Never forget that all that’s new is not good.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Auburn, AL



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