Reading for pleasure is losing its appeal in the technological age. Paperbacks don’t share in the immediacy of Netflix, Snapchat or YouTube, and can’t compete with our shortened attention spans.
But while some are mourning the demise of the reading culture, a few Israeli creatives are choosing to fight this trend and are bringing literature to the smartphone generation through a new mobile app called Books on Map.
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It’s part library, part treasure map, part social network. The app opens up to a typical GPS-locating digital map. Users from all over the world can submit “Bookations,” where they mark the locations in their city that make an appearance in their favorite novel, using certain quotes. They can also create entire routes designed to follow specific stories.
The app’s map and search bar enable you to seek out the books, quotes, authors, or cities you desire for your adventure’s starting point. Service is currently available in Paris, France, as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel, with plans to add up to 25 new cities in the coming months.
Books on Map gives you the opportunity “to walk in the footsteps of Hemingway, or to know where Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code took place,” Deddi Zucker, CEO and founder of Books on Map (and a former member of the Israeli parliament), tells NoCamels. “It’s a new way to travel and to encounter experiences.”
The app launched in beta mode in October 2015, and is expected to fully launch by June 2017, according to Zucker. There are expectedly a few beta bugs that need ironing out – such as the signup options, search bar and bookations – but Zucker says these will be fixed and improved.
A walking tour of Parisian literary gems
Proving its potential, Books on Map recently won the City of Paris tourism app competition. Earlier this year, the app was featured on bus stations across Paris. In addition, the app has been made available for public use on 32 different touch-screens around the city – and will continue to be featured through May 2017.
Based in Tel Aviv, Books on Map’s five employees are inspired by mutual “curiosity, love for words and pleasure of travel,” according to the startup, which also claims the app provides a more intimate knowledge of a city, compared to standard tour guides. Zucker declined to comment on the company’s funding rounds, but according to reports in the Israeli media, the company has completed two rounds, the latter of which totaled $750,000.
You may download the app from Apple’s App Store or from Google Play for free; premium services will be available for a fee in the coming months.
It seems that the premise of Books on Map appeals to a fast-paced, technological world. Like the recent Pokémon Go fad – which created a huge global community of Pokémon enthusiasts – Books on Map could create a new tech-savvy, literary community.