Analysis on the Chinese Market of Children’s VR books
Ding Zhi Bo Seung-keun Song
Department of Visual Content, Division of digital contents, Graduate school, Dongseo University
47 Jurye-ro, Sasang-gu, Busan47011, Korean
Busan, South Korean
Children's VR book market not only can directly reflect the market demand for VR books and the trend of children's reading, it also reflects the issues that need to be solved in many aspects such as science and technology, economy, society, education ecology, children's physical and mental health. However, these issues have not been studied in depth by relevant scholars in China. This study attempts to understand the current situation and problems of Chinese children's VR books through the research methods of literature collection, field research and Interview. Through the survey of the book market, this research found that the children's VR books market is huge. However, there are a series of problems hidden in it, such as technical barrier, insufficient research, limited types, no age stratification, and no effect evaluation criteria. Therefore, combined with China's national conditions and national policies, this paper proposes that Chinese children's VR books need to speed up research, set quality standards to guide the development of Chinese children's digital reading in a healthy and feasible direction.
Keywords- Virtual Reality; VR Book ; Children’s Book; Chinese Market
Virtual Reality (VR) books are one of the swiftest growing trends in children’s publishing business. The opportunities to engage younger readers with digital content above and beyond the two-dimensional words and illustrations on the page opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities for individuals willing to work with the technology. As a digital publishing method, children's VR books have been valued by governments and various platforms. For example, Singapore’s augmented and virtual reality app and platform SnapLearn started to offer AR and VR enhancements for book publishers from 2016. Virtual reality techniques in novels such as Harry Potter and Parramon’s Alice in Wonderland is famous and welcomed by children from all over the world. VR version of "Dinosaur World" almost every child’s favorite adventure journey. In order to make children interested in science and technology, China also has developed a series of VR books such as "Exploring the Arctic” published by Press of Beijing University of Technology (Figure1).
2. Theory Background
VR (Visual Reality) is a new technology based on the theory of human-computer interaction. Technology plays an important role in VR research. In some previous studies the term “technology” is part of the definition of VR. For example, Klopfer and Sheldon defined VR as a “technology” that blends real and virtual world experience together. It views VR as a form of virtual reality with a head-mounted display . This definition reflects the VR technology that usually included head-mounted apparatus overlaying virtual information to immerse someone into it. With a rapid evolution of technology, it refers to the computer providing users with a virtual world created through various sensory channels, enabling users to immerse themselves in this virtual world and to be free from the real world . VR books can not only restore the abstract scientific concepts in textbooks through stereoscopic images, but also allow children to see the details in book, better understand certain physical and chemical knowledge, provide an environment for simulated exercises, consolidate and strengthen knowledge, so as to greatly enhance children's learning interests and learning effects (Figure2) .
Fig. 2 Milgrams Reality-Virtuality continuum
3. Status of Children’s VR Books Market of China
The year of 2016 is the first peak period for the development of Chinese children's VR books.In 2016, Chinese CITIC (China International Trust and Investment Corporation) Publishing House launched AR&VR cross-media products such as “Science Run Out” series. In the same year, Beijing Children's Publishing House and Yi Shi interactively compiled the “Open Eyes: Dinosaur World Adventure Series Books”, and the accompanying VR glasses to achieve cross-media integration to create a virtual world of dinosaurs (Figure3) . As far as we know this is the first popular science book in China that combines VR technology. After entering the traditional children's publishing market, VR books are looting the attention of parents and children with their unique "three-dimensional, intuitive, scientific and novelty", and quickly rank among the top of the children's book sales. According to the latest market data, the average monthly sales of an VR children's book on Dangdang(Chinese online bookstore), Tmall(Chinese online shopping mall), Amazon and other platforms can exceed 10,000. Some dealers have indicated that their VR book sales can reach 50,000, while the traditional book sales volume is only up to 10,000. to 20,000 sets .
Ms. Victoria, the founder of Victoria AR, the world's largest AR&VR book development company, believes that the world's largest and most mature AR&VR market is in China, and Chinese parents have a strong interest in AR books. The huge market also attracts digital book developers from all over the world. In recent years, the Asian VR&AR Expo and Summit Forum held in Guangzhou (a southern city of China) every year, which means that China have been officially opens its billion RMB of VR market to over-sea capitals in order to encourage the entry of foreign investment since premier Li Keqiang emphasized that China would ardently protect the intellectual property rights of oversea companies. Otherwise, National Development and Reform Commission has also revealed that high-tech foreign companies may enjoy preferential policies such as tariff exemptions for imported equipment, priority in land use, etc. Therefore, Korean video companies have begun to cooperate with Chinese institutions to customize VR products for Chinese children.
Figure. 3 A child reader held VR glasses at the 2016 Beijing Book Fair(left), the Asian VR&AR Expo and Summit Forum (right)
4. Issues on Children’s VR Books Market of China
First of all, China does not pay attention to the development of original content for children's VR books. Most of VR and New Oriental education institutions such as “Black Crystal Technology” and “Time digital” are focusing on creating VR virtual classrooms to capture the VR digital all-media platform. According to incomplete statistics, the current domestic companies focusing onchildren's VR books mainly include Beijing's Yi Shi Interactive, Shanghai's Little Bear Nio, Shenzhen's Mo Aike, Hangzhou's Egg World, and Dalian's Xinrui and other companies .
Secondly, China's production technology on children’s VR book needs to be improved. VR books are a kind of cross-media production. It needs to use 3D modeling and calculation to realize human-computer interaction. The virtual reality scene is relatively complicated , it is difficult for companies to conduct in-depth research and development.
Thirdly, Most of VR contents have no age stratification and putting on market without a certain amount of testing. Some products even use VR gimmicks to raise the price of the book. Furthermore, there is no evaluation organizations, no assessment of whether children's vision and psychology are negatively affected at present, and children's education professionals and scholars are also less involved in regulation making.
As we know, children's digital books are both of cultural products and social public products. The regulation and construction of children's VR books is a public affair related to all citizens and requires laws and regulations as the basis which rely on the overall planning and coordination of government departments . The Korean government has a higher level of participation in the publishing industry, including pricing. A well-made AR book at the Sasang-gu children’s Library in Busan, South Korea, which was priced at only 11,000 won (¥60), even cheaper than an ordinary adult book.
What is more, market surveillance agencies should quickly establish to help long-term development of the industry. children's VR books are a kind of "technology + publishing." Digital books can motivate children's interests, but they are also a new medium that interferes reading. Although there is no empirical research on how children's acceptance of these artificial visions will change the way of brain accepting and processing visual information. However, it is certain that children's long-term use of this multimedia products can not only effectively cultivate deep reading, but also easily lead to decreased concentration and eye diseases, resulting in deviations of behavioral perception, even game migration and brain damage. Pediatricians recommend to limit the VR using time of children to 5-15 minutes.
The last point without mentioned is China's digital reading research team should invest more time in contents. According to UNICEF's 2015 statistics, there are 270 million children between ages of 2 and 12 in China  (the actual number is far more than ‘the second-child policy’). These children have the possibility to use VR digital products in science, language, moral education, literature, painting, etc. Therefore, Companies should try to integrate Chinese traditional stories into digital books instead of import VR books produced by other countries.
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