If you’re involved in publishing, you would be hard pushed not to have seen IKEA’s bookbook™ advert. In just a few days, the clever video has gone viral, attracting a great deal of support for its simplicity and satirisation of the digital industry.

Ten million views later, and it would appear IKEA has struck a chord with the general public. Is it just a breath of fresh air amidst a circus of digital innovations, where everyone seems to be producing material that sings, dances and sometimes plain misses the point of the publication? Or is this an indication that we aren’t as ready to consign print to the bin as digital publishers would like to think?


Physical flaws

Although I can appreciate the humour of the bookbook™ advert, I cannot be objective in writing about it as I spend a great deal of time trying to make digital editions engaging and interactive. However, I am not the only person to see the fundamental flaw in the advert. As D.B. Hebbard (Talking New Media) wrote this week;

“…The video also does a great job of promoting digital. How? It makes you think of all the ways a digital catalog is superior to a print catalog…”¹

Hebbard is spot on, and shared the same experience as me when watching the video. Despite enjoying the advert, I couldn’t help seeing all the limitations with each ‘new’ feature that Jörgen showcased.

Digital potential

For retailers like IKEA in particular, digital catalogues are a fantastic extension of the website retail experience. Up-to-date pricing, stock levels and searching are basic expectations that simply cannot be achieved with a print catalogue. Then there are features that could be developed. How about the ability to photograph your room and ‘transpose’ the furniture into it to see how it would look, like a virtual changing-room for your house? Dulux have an app which has a similar feature for testing paint colours in a photograph of a room, so its not as though technology isn’t quite there yet.

Others on LinkedIn expressed a desire for a smartphone version of the digital catalogue for checking real-time pricing and stock levels whilst in the store itself.²

There is so much potential in this area, particularly with retailers like IKEA which pride themselves on cost-reducing simplicity, and a heavy reliance on customers needing to know what is in stock and where. Despite creating a very successful viral advert, I can’t help but feel that IKEA has taken a deliberate step back for the sake of a few laughs and knowing smiles.

Perhaps I’m wrong, and maybe the bookbook™ offers a refreshing step away from the whistles and bells offered by the digital publishing industry. Tweet me, or comment below with any thoughts!

IKEA’s bookbook™ IKEA’s bookbook™ IKEA’s bookbook™

1 – Accessed 12/09/2014 at Talking New Media – click here for link
2- LinkedIn group discussion – click here for link
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