“Let your favorite author read to you with JEM, the first hologram-based reader.” Who could resist? Unfortunately neither hBooks nor the JEM reader exists. It was all just an April fool’s gag.

This is sad, because this does seem like a technology that could be really interesting. The idea comes from Quirk Books of Philadelphia who do not disclose just how they’d get Jane Austen to pose for a hologram, or indeed record her reading of Emma etc. Still, it’s a nice dream. Please, someone, get to work on this.

Quirk Books have a nice blog too.

Now, it is true that holograms have featured in books before April 1st of this year. Inevitably the word gets stretched to cover a variety of techniques to create an apparently shifting image. Holographic foil has been available for a few years, but I don’t count that as truly holographic: it just looks a bit different when viewed from different angles. It’s like lenticular printing: lenticular images originate from several pictures taken from slightly different angles. When combined they give the impression of movement. A holographic image originates from a 3D scan, allowing you to see the object from different angles. Most of the books made with a “holographic cover” actually have a bit of lenticular printing. The same would be true of that gigantic Jesus whose eyes would follow you around the CBA exhibition many years ago.

Here’s a link to German book-manufacturing company Brandbook showing a large variety of cover embellishment techniques. As always, the trouble with most of these is that they cost a fortune.