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Sony's Wonderbook platform augments reading experience

Sony is to develop a range of augmented reality titles on its Wonderbook platform as part of an effort to reposition its PlayStation games console as a family entertainment unit.

The first title, Book of Spells, is based on the Harry Potter books and features exclusive new writing from J K Rowling (pictured). It arrives in stores today (16th November), priced at £23, £60 and £200 (including console). W H Smith is to stock the packages, despite pulling out of the games market three years ago. 

Jonathan Fargher, senior PR manager for PlayStation, said: “Wonderbook opens up a range of possibilities . . . We believe it can bring the family together.”

Forthcoming titles for the device include a collaboration with the BBC for “Walking with Dinosaurs”, a Disney collaboration, and Diggs Nightcrawler from Academy Award-winning animation studio Moonbot. Sony said once Wonderbook was established it could begin talks with other publishers.

The Book of Spells is the first spin-off to emerge from Sony’s relationship with Pottermore, the virtual world created by Rowling that is responsible for retailing the Harry Potter e-books. Users who are registered with Pottermore will automatically be sorted into “houses” and can gain house points by learning spells. Rowling said: “This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.”

While the price of the game, kit and console might put off some families, some observers said it was a big step in the development of interactive reading. 

Innovator and e-book pioneer Bob Stein said: “I was interacting with content in a way I’d only dreamed of until now, raising the exciting possibility that in the future reading (or whatever we start to call it) will no longer be only a function of the mind.”