SmartBook 2

The “Smart Tagged” Book that is Smart, Readable and Searchable:
A Third Option for Publishers and a Potential Motorola – Google – – Beal Centre Collaboration

Prepared by Robert K. Logan ()

Abstract: We are proposing a book that is smart, searchable and readable. We will analyze this opportunity using the New Product Filter developed at the Beal Centre.

Starting Idea: The “Smart Book”, which is smart (i.e. knows what the reader wants to learn), searchable and readable. We are proposing a new format for books by embedding a “smart tag” into a standard printed folio book that has the text of the book in a searchable digital format that can be accessed by a “Smart Book” Enabler. The book can be made smart by highlighting its content for the user whose profile is embedded in the “Smart Book” Enabler. The “smart book” would represent a third option for book publishers in addition to the standard printed book (option 1) and various digital formats such as an e-book or a book on a CD-ROM (option 2).

Options 1 and 2 have their advantages which may be described simply as the printed book is the best form yet devised for readability and the digital book is the format of choice for searching and researching. The folio book also has the advantage for quick browsing to get the feel of the book especially if the book has a detailed table of contents and index and is written so that the contents of the book are summarized in the first few pages of the book. The e-book has an additional advantage. For a complex subject one can easily hypertext back and forth with the e-book’s search capabilities to tie together related themes. If the e-book is written taking advantage of hypertext this ability to tie together complex themes can be achieved for the reader.

The smart book has all the advantages of both options 1 and 2 but it also can customize the use of the book for the reader highlighting the information they want and need.

The “Smart Book” and The Beal Centre New Product Filter

We will examine the opportunity that this idea represents by making use of the Beal Centre New Product Filter, which is attached to this document as an appendix.

Filter 1: Description of the Opportunity, Acceptability and Nowability

Description of the Opportunity

The opportunities with the “smart book” are two-fold. First there is the development of the “smart tags” for the books and then there is the development of the “Smart Book” Enabler.

The business method is to first convince book publishers to create “smart books” to create the market for the “smart book” tags. The next step is to get university and public libraries to adopt the system for the benefit of their users to create a market for the “Smart Book” Enabler. The third step is to get the large book chains to adopt the system for inventory control and as a marketing feature that will attract more customers who will be able to find the books in the store that satisfy their needs with the advantage that the customers will be able to browse the book in the store both electronically and in the printed book itself.

The potential applications correspond to the following three levels of access.

1. Owner of book can capture data in book electronically - they will create a personal searchable library with a smart catalog and a smart index of topics and themes of interest to the reader.

2. Library version - library patrons can access the entire book electronically or read it in hard copy - but they are also able to search it - but not copy it electronically.

3. Book store version before the book is purchased. The “smart tag” creates a smart shelf that tells customers where they may find a book or books that meet their interest and describe to them where in the store they can find the book. They will be able to access the book electronically but they will not be able to copy any of the pages except promotional pages at the discretion of the publisher and the author.


We believe that this opportunity responds to an existing and emerging human behavior.

There already exist books that are searchable and readable but not smart, which are achieved in the following manner:

1. A number of printed books include a CD-ROM with the digital content of the book so that the book’s content can be searched.

2. The Delicious Library ( is a system where one points any FireWire digital video camera, like an Apple iSight®, at the barcode on the back of any book, movie, music, or video game. The bar code is scanned and of in-depth information is downloaded from one of six different Web sites one of which is The system also allows the user to catalog their personal library. The system can be used for a small lending library to keep track of book borrowers.

3. provides information about books already that a “smart book” tag would point the user to. That information includes the price of a new or used book, the publisher, other editions of the book, other books by the same author, other books purchased by readers of the book, what readers thought of the book, the popularity of the book in terms of its sales, etc., etc.

4. E-books enjoy a certain degree of acceptance and are sometimes used together with a hard copy book so as to combine both readability and searchability.

5. At the book publisher O’Reilly Media offers the following combination of services aimed at programmers and IT professionals:

• Searches across all the 3,000 technical books in its Safari collection.
• The ability to read the Safari books on one’s bookshelf from cover to cover or simply flip to the needed pages.
• The ability to browse technical books by category.
• The ability to download chapters for viewing offline.

6. Google Print is an example of a service that allows potential buyers of a book to access a few pages at a time and find books that match their interests.

7. There does not exist any smart books yet, but having personalized information delivered to one’s email box is quite popular with many different organizations providing alert services in which the user of the service is alerted to newspaper articles and/or Web sites that contain a requested key word or words. Examples include Google Alert and the Washington Post Alert.

8. Bruce Sterling in an article entitled Dumbing Down Smart Objects
( also proposes a smart tagged book very similar to the one we are proposing. He calls it a spime book, which he suggests is an “open book” because of all the information made available about it.


The technology exists today for developing this product. “Smart tags” are now a standard technology. The “Smart Book” Enabler will be a basically a combination of a cell phone and a PDA that contains a program that can identify the interests and desires for information and knowledge of the user. The hardware for this project is standard. All that is required is some programming that can digitize the interest and desires of the user as well as some standard IR (information retrieval) protocols. Some additional IR protocols may have to be developed.

Filter 2 – Description of the Potential Opportunity and the Platformability

The rough size of the market is quite extensive as it includes all university staff and students, all private sector, government and foundation researchers for both the “smart book” and the “Smart Book” Enabler. The market also includes the following potential targeted customers:

• most book publishers especially technical, textbook and non-fiction trade book publishers,
• the publishers of academic and technical journals,
• bookstores especially megastore chains like Barnes and Noble, Borders and Indigo in Canada, and
• libraries.

At this point no quantitative analysis of the size of the market has been made – only the qualitative one presented here.

There are many application possibilities some of which include the following:

1. Smart books, journals, magazines, and newspapers – imagine the Smart Economist or the Smart NY Times
2. Smart libraries – imagine students checking out an Enabler at their information commons or imagine students buying their own Enabler because they do not wish to wait in line for their library provided Enabler.
3. Imagine inserting smart tags in all the out of print books being scanned by Google, Project Gutenberg, the Million Book Project and others like a project to scan out-of-print Canadian publications at the University of Toronto.
4. Imagine publishers reissuing their current books in print or even those out of print in “Smart Tagged” editions because researchers would want to have their books in a smart, searchable and readable format.

The technology implications other than designing, packaging and integrating existing hardware would be some programming to create search and interest profiles making use of the knowledge of experts in the field of IR (information retrieval).

Partnership Implications: Potential partners that could make this project fly are as follows:

A publishing partner to bring out the first “smart books” – possibly which has an association with the Beal Centre and is an online on demand publisher. Perhaps O’Reilly-Safari would also want to be a partner.

A search engine partner such as Google, given their interest in publishing, through Google Print along with experts in the field of IR (information retrieval).


The development of the “smart book” platform would make Motorola a leader in this field which is sure to emerge within the next 5 to 10 years.

Filter 3

Detailed descriptions of the following to determine the economic viability of the “Smart Book” have not been done yet:
specific target markets,
applications, their immediate and potential size,
the business model,
associated economics, and
product, service and technology design.

No prototype exists.

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