After a year in development, Virtual Reality (VR) books website Inkflash.com has just opened for business. It’s like the love child of Goodreads and WordPress, with an engaging 3D VR interface; and it all runs in a web browser, without requiring additional software.
Inkflash is all about exploring a 3D world and discovering new books and authors. Visitors can wander from a traditional-looking library to a “room” on the surface of Mars, and from there to a small island in the South Pacific. Each room is themed and has its own sense of character, so visitors get a real sense of exploration – finding out what surprises are through the next door.
Publishers and authors have been signing up for the last few months; each has one or more “virtual rooms” that showcase their books. Matt Stephens, Inkflash’s founder, said, “There’s been such a lot of interest in the site, and we already have quite a backlog of VR rooms to create. So visitors to the site should see lots of new content appearing over the next few weeks and months. Anyone who wants a room on the site might want to contact us now, so they’re not too far down the waiting list!”
Particularly of interest to independent authors who have a back catalogue to promote, Inkflash offers an exciting new platform that can be added into an online sales marketing mix. Matt told us: “One of my favourite features is the ability to tweet a room photo” (in any 3D room, right-click and click the Share button; simple as that). Additionally, publishers/authors who’ve signed up can embed their VR room onto their own website – just like embedding a YouTube video – with just a few lines of cut & pasted HTML. Check out http://fingerpress.co.uk/heikki-hietala to get an idea of how this looks – screengrab below:
Inkflash was first announced back in July, and the team has been working hard since then. As Matt said, “Just when we thought we were almost ready, some new feature appeared, and we all said ‘That has to be there at launch time!’ And that kept happening – to the point where we just had to say ‘Right, let’s launch with what we’ve got, then keep on improving the site afterwards.” On the plus side, visitors have a compelling reason to keep on returning to the site: there’ll always be something new and exciting to discover.
Matt told us: “One of my favourite features is the ability to tweet a room photo” (in any 3D room, right-click and click the Share button; simple as that). Additionally, publishers/authors who’ve signed up can embed their VR room onto their own website – just like embedding a YouTube video – with just a few lines of cut & pasted HTML. The result looks like this: http://fingerpress.co.uk/heikki-hietala
Authors can also show Twitter or RSS feeds and videos projected onto a wall in their 3D room. The effect is like seeing their book trailer on a big cinema screen.
Another great feature, and probably one of the strongest features on the site is the “activity aggregator” (or “review trawler”, as it’s known to the development team). Inkflash crawls the web for book reviews, author interviews, book trailer videos etc, from pre-approved sources – book blogs, review sites, newspapers & journals; and presents a review summary for each book. It gives visitors an instant feel of whether a book is for them or not (rather than someone else’s personal 1-star or 5-star rating), a sort of Internet zeitgeist. The image below shows how reviews are displayed.
As Matt said, with the potential understatement of the year: “Inkflash is a pretty exciting new way for publishers to showcase their books.”
For more info check out @InkflashVR on Twitter for updates and visit the main site http://inkflash.com