Oct 18, 2016

    Frankfurt book fair opens new VR chapter


    THERE will still be more books than you could ever read but visitors to this week's Frankfurt Book Fair will also be invited to don virtual reality goggles, visit an interactive classroom and discover 3D-printed art as publishers plug into new technology.

    Organisers of the world's largest publishing event said the focus on art and technology is a logical next step as the creative industries become ever more connected.

    The fair, which opens on Wednesday and is expected to draw 275,000 visitors, has always been about "content - regardless of its format", the event's vice-president Holger Volland said.

    Among the main draws at the five-day gathering will be virtual reality experiences, with several exhibitors unveiling projects that plunge visitors into a world that until then existed only on the page.

    Taiwanese artist Jimmy Liao's picture book, All Of My World Is You, will come to life once visitors slip on a VR headset. It will allow them to interact with the main character, a mysterious young girl, and complete challenges to make her smile.

    In the spotlight as guest of honour is the literary culture and language of Flanders and the Netherlands, which have created three VR experiences.

    One allows users to alternate between the perspectives of a father and his nine-year-old daughter who are mourning the loss of a family member.

    "Literature exists not just on the page," said Suzanne Meeuwissen of the Dutch Foundation For Literature, a co-initiator of the projects, pointing to recent Nobel Literature Prize winner Bob Dylan as an example.

    Virtual reality is a brand new canvas, she added, and "writers and artists are hungry to explore this unfamiliar territory".

    Educational publishers are also tapping into new technology, from textbooks that can be made interactive with the help of an app to 3D printouts of organs to use in biology lessons.