It’s one of those rare weekend days when you’re not tired or hungover and you feel like doing something. Maybe watch the leaves turn with a latte. Shoot hoops with some friends. Go to an open-air café with a book.
In comes Squirl, an app that discovers books in physical locations. The app gives you excerpts and book recommendations based on where you are. Passing by 221B Baker St.? In come the first few lines of The Hound of Baskerville.
The selected passages help you immerse yourself physically and mentally into the plot of the book. While this sounds amazing in theory, jumping into a novel without any exposition may be a bit confusing. Hopefully the developers have thought of this problem already, and you won’t find yourself jumping into an awkwardly tense scene with no idea of what’s going on.
Squirl isn’t just a discovery app. It also allows you to check in to the locations, converse with users and author, follow an area, author or book, create and discover book tours and find related content and locations. The online book reading and sharing community is a small but strong one. Websites like Fanfiction.net, Goodreads and Wattpad are all proof that people love to talk about books almost as much as they love reading them. Squirl’s social media aspects aren’t unique, but we’re excited to see if the location and immersion element of the app will somehow bleed into this section as well.
While I love the idea of location-based book recommendations, I think that this will only become a viable medium if there are books written for this medium. Suggesting A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is nice if you’re walking around the area, but it’s a solid book that you have to sit and full=on hardcore read. Good augmented reality apps consider the fact that you’re walking when the new content pops up, and you might not have time to sit for a croissant (which they suggest in the Kickstarter) and read. And if you do have time to read, it’s unlikely you’ll be walking around randomly to try to find a story.
The best part about Squirl is that it encourages authors to write and submit to have the app include them in the map. With this in mind, perhaps authors will be able to adapt their writing to this new, on-the-go medium. That will require a level of collaboration between company and audience that isn’t covered in the social plan they’ve outlined. But if successfully done, the possible alternative literature could be incredible.