Converting Great Books Into 2D Barcodes

What is Books2Barcodes?

Books2Barcodes is an ongoing effort to convert all the world’s great books to QR codes (2D barcodes). Each work featured here is the entire text of a piece of classic literature translated into several thousand barcodes. With a mobile device equipped with a camera and a barcode-scanning app, you can experience the joy of a great book as read through 800-character fragments on your cellphone.

How does it work?

You’ll need a mobile device with a barcode-scanning app. You can use Google Goggles, RedLaser, Zxing, or just about anything else. Just click one of the links on the left, then scan each barcode to get a piece of the book!

Longer books can take a while to download fully. Use a modern browser like Firefox or Chrome for the fastest experience.

Who are we?

We are a team of archivists, engineers, and library scientists working tirelessly to try to make the classics of yesterday accessible to today’s technology. Although the task of converting books to barcodes is difficult, time-consuming, and impossible to automate, we believe this cultural contribution is necessary, regardless of the logistical difficulties.

This is an interesting idea. What I don’t understand is why it would be any easier to open an app and scan the next part of your book instead of just clicking the next page and keep going. There are so many apps for books already that I don’t get why anyone would really need or use this.

Still, trying to make use of QR codes and make them more widely used can’t be a bad thing. The more that people use them, the better results and innovative ways of using them will come.


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