Trendwatch: AR stickers, Manga, clicks to bricks

Trendwatch: AR stickers, Manga, clicks to bricks

From next gen stickers to bug-eyed wizards, here are three trends that publishing professionals might just want to take notice of this month.

Mardles AR stickers

Wired declared them one of the best tech toys of London Toy Fair 2016, and any parent - or playful grown-up - will instantly see the appeal of the augmented reallity stickers from new British startup Mardles

They may look old-school in the packet, but download the free app and each sticker acts as an AR marker, allowing your phone or tablet to animate and control characters from dinosaurs to space rockets. The innovation that got Wired so excited "is that once the target sticker has been read, the generated object is no longer anchored to the picture. A jet plane can be flown around a room, or a unicorn can walk up your arm, all in real time."

Publishing no-brainer alert: at £5 for a packet of six, Mardles stickers seems a ridiculously easy way to give print books a cheap little digital twist. And although the most obvious use case is for children's books, it doesn't take much imagination to see how they could be adapted to other audiences and genres. Get in line.

Manga everything

This month sees the release of an official range of Harry Potter Manga characters, licensed by Warner Bros to be used on merchandise sold exclusively in Japan, where the franchise is hugely popular. 

But Manga also has a growing following in the UK, a trend fuelled by the international releases of anime titles and a burgeoning roster of British comic authors influenced by the distinctive style, so surely it can't be long before we see a Manga Philosopher's Stone turn up in local bookstores.

It seems surprising that so potentially profitable an avenue is so rarely exploited on our shores. London-based publisher Self Made Hero has had great success with its Manga Shakespeare range, which combines sexy, dynamic imagery with abridged text devised by a leading Shakespeare scholar and an educational editor to turn teens onto the bard. 

How many agents, publishers and authors are exploring the possibility of Manga-ing their work? The YA space is the most obviously ripe for crossover projects, but some less predictable works could make a huge splash. Who could resist a home-grown Manga The Bone Clocks or War and Peace

Clicks to bricks

News last week that Amazon is set to open a second bookshop in San Diego, following the much-discussed opening of its first physical store in Seattle in November last year, sent the expected ripples of horror and excitement through the industry.

What is really extraordinary, however, is the fact that a digital retailer opening a physical store is being heralded as unusual or unexpected in any way.

The 'clicks to bricks' movement has seen a host of online brands invade the high street over the past few years in an open admission that physical shops offer the sort of sensory experience, customer connection and product showcasing that images on a screen can never replicate.

US eyewear website Warby Parker was one of the first to nail the transition brilliantly. Online swimwear brand Orlebar Brown now has three London stores. Cycling specialist Rapha, launched online in 2004, now has a series of intimate shop-club-cafés aorund the world. Others such as eBay and Moo have taken the low-risk option of seasonal pop-ups.

As any sane business owner knows, the future is indisputably 'omnichannel'. So why are we all so surprised that Amazon also got the memo? Other digital publishing companies would be mad not to consider adding niche print imprints or physical outposts to their online offerings as they mature.

Kobo Korner Shops, anyone? Scribd cafés?