Preview – Bringing Books to the Metaverse (or is it the other way round?)

Posted on: Friday 17 June 2022 3:04am by Dashiell Asher

One of several explorations of aspects of the Metaverse at CMC 2022…

The Metaverse was famously birthed in a book – specifically, in the text of Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash.  But is the Metaverse destined to be the death of reading?  Or can digital tools ignite a new wave of publishing innovation, connect to physical books, and help solve the growing crisis in literacy?

CMC’s discussion panel in Sheffield on 7 July will debate Bringing Books to the Metaverse (or is it the other way round?) and explore how books and Web 3 tools can enrich storytelling, literacy skills and education for young readers. Lens/headset time will soon replace phone and screen time as the parental/child challenge. So how can physical books continue to thrive and play their critical role in every child’s development?  Where does the Metaverse live on the problem/opportunity scale for the future of reading?

At a time when literacy levels are in crisis post-pandemic, are virtual worlds destined to pull children away from the printed page or will kids use books as a respite from the digital whirlwind around them?

Physical books are as popular as ever – 75% of global book sales are paper products, while ebook growth has stalled.  The rise of BookTok and Booksta reflect a love of books in younger generations as objects as well as crucibles of ideas.

Can we do more to bring physical books and digital tools together? Or are comics set in Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite the best we’ve got? Are books and the Metaverse simply poles apart? Or are there emerging bridges between the two?

We’ll talk about (and provide links to) examples of where hybrid read/play experiences can take the audience, and look for opportunities to encourage both digital and narrative literacy in the Metaverse generation.

The panel moderator Japhet Asher is widely recognised as the world’s leading creator of AR powered books, including his Futurebook Book of the Year winning novel, ‘The Ghostkeeper’s Journal’, which is a part of the Reading Agency’s immersive Summer Storytrails programme, in association with Unboxed, at libraries across the UK.

He’s joined on the panel by Alyx Price, Associate Publisher for Macmillan Children’s Books whose focus is on pursuing exciting new partnerships and projects, developing networks for business growth. Alyx has worked with a who’s who of UK based children’s authors and illustrators, including the creators of such titles as ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Horrible Histories’.

Dan Shepherd has worked in the book publishing industry for over 20 years including senior roles at Penguin, where he helped build the global ‘Wimpy Kid’ franchise, DK and LEGO Books at AMEET Publishing, and he is now a co-founder of a tech startup building bridges between physical books and digital tools.

Children’s book author Sophie Deen is the founder and CEO of kids’ media company, Bright Little Labs and a champion ofusing stories to teach coding to diverse audiences.  BLL make cartoons, games and toys to promote STEM, 21st century skills, critical thinking + equality for all kids aged 3+.

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Dashiell Asher

About the author

Dashiell Asher

Warner Bros. Discovery, Digital Producer

Dashiell Asher is a content maker and digital producer working in the Children’s Digital Products and Innovation Team EMEA for Warner Bros. Discovery. He is a believer in the power of interactive storytelling, learning through play, and taking a good personality quiz. He is the creator of the multi-award nominated… Read more