Marketing Books with QR Codes


QR Codes

Why should you care about them?

Three good reasons:

  • Humans are more likely to pursue an option that allows them to be lazy. Extra work deters sales.
  • People can easily make mistakes when typing a website address. Typos cost sales.
  • Many of your potential customers are into the latest technology. Give them an opportunity to play with their toys.

QR codes make it easy for your customers to find your Author Central page, book’s product page at Amazon, Facebook author page, Twitter page, WordPress blog, Goodreads author page, or other websites.

What Is a QR Code?

A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode. QR stands for Quick Response.

It’s very common in the consumer industry for a QR code to contain the information for a website url.

You can see a sample QR code above in the image I used for this post.

Here’s how the QR code works:

  • You visit a website that allows you to generate a QR code for your website. Some QR websites do this for free.
  • Then you download the JPEG or PNG file for your QR code.
  • Include your QR code on your book marketing materials.
  • Smartphone users can download free apps that scan QR codes.
  • The customer uses the QR scanner on his/her smartphone to scan the QR code. It’s just the phone’s camera reading the QR code.
  • When the QR code is scanned, the phone’s browser opens the website address associated with the QR code.
  • You can even track statistics associated with QR code scans, which is great for marketing.

Quick and Easy

Really, it’s incredibly easy.

If you have a smartphone, you just open the app, which opens your phone’s camera, point the camera at the QR code, and that’s it. The phone beeps, the phone’s internet browser opens, and the webpage appears on the phone.

Many smartphone owners have already installed free apps on their phones to scan QR codes. Many people recognize QR codes when they see them and scan them.

If you’ve never scanned a QR code before, what are you waiting for?

  • Get your cell phone out and search for apps.
  • Type QR code into the search query. Browse for free QR scanners.
  • I have an android phone. I tried a few. I like one called QR Droid.
  • Install the QR scanning app on your phone.
  • Test it out. You can scan the QR code above if you like (it will take you to my Amazon author page). Or the next time you buy a soft drink in a fast food restaurant, see if there is a QR code on the cup.

It’s just as easy for authors to generate free QR codes to help market their books. You just find a free website, enter your website url, and download an image file with your QR code.

Marketing with QR Codes

There are several websites that specialize in generating QR codes. Many offer free QR codes. Many allow you to track statistics.

I tried and really liked it. I tested out Scanova and some other popular QR generators, and found Scanova most suitable for my needs.

When searching for a QR code generator, consider these features:

  • Will customers see advertisements on your website? Some of the generators require you to pay a monthly fee to avoid this.
  • Do the QR codes work reliably? Make a free one and test it out.
  • Do they offer free tracking of statistics?
  • How many trackable QR codes can you get?
  • How many trackable QR codes do you need?
  • Do they offer color or visual QR codes?
  • Is there a limit to how many QR scans customers can do per month? Some charge a fee to raise or remove this limit.
  • One of the fancy paid QR services that I explored in my research offered you the chance to create a QR code that goes to one page that shows your website, Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc. It was an all-in-one page. Of course, you could create your own free webpage somewhere and put all this together on that page, then use a free QR code to go to that page instead of paying for this special feature.

Don’t like the way QR codes look? Not a problem. Scanova and other QR code generators offer visual QR codes. You upload an image, such as a logo, and they turn it into a visual QR code.

Plain QR codes are more likely to be instantly recognized as QR codes, and it’s possible that they will be easier to read. You can test out a visual QR code and a plain one to compare them.

Book Marketing

You want customers to visit your author page, blog, social media sites, Amazon product page, etc.

So make it easy for the customer to do this. That’s what QR codes are for. Why type that url when you can just scan it.

Online, the customer would simply click on the link. That’s easy. But what about when it’s not online?

Anytime you print your url, add your QR code, too:

  • On the author page of your print book, include the QR codes to your WordPress blog, Facebook author, and Twitter pages.
  • When you print bookmarks for your book, add the QR code to the book’s product page at Amazon.
  • Add a QR code for your Amazon author page to your business cards.
  • Create flyers for a Goodreads giveaway or Rafflecopter contest. A QR code makes it easy to enter.
  • Send postcards to your client lists, notifying them (with a personal touch!) when your new book comes out—with a convenient QR code.

If you want to go overboard, you can even tattoo a QR code on your forearm or paint one on the door of your car! (Hey, you just might get the local news to make a story out of it for extra publicity.) Be sure to put a QR code on your pet’s id tag! 🙂

Really, you don’t have to do extra work to use QR codes in your book marketing. Just add a QR code to anything you’d ordinarily print, including your book, bookmarks, business cards, etc.

It’s free. It’s really not extra work. So why aren’t you using QR codes? What’s there to lose?

In addition to helping you generate additional traffic, QR codes offer tracking statistics. If you succeed in getting customers to scan QR codes that take them to your book’s product page at Amazon, you get tracking data that you wouldn’t ordinarily obtain.

Are QR Codes Dead or Alive?

I’m not saying that QR codes are so popular that everyone is scanning them, and that this is the easy solution to all your marketing woes.

What I am saying is that QR codes are easy to make, easy to use, and can help you generate additional traffic without much extra work.

Who can’t use extra traffic without extra expense and with very little work?

QR codes are in use. Many big-name fast food restaurants include QR codes on their disposable products, such as soda cups. Big retailers are keeping QR codes alive. You can take advantage of this.

There are alternatives to QR codes, but again, there are many people who recognize and use QR codes, you can make them for free, it makes it easy for customers to find your website, it offers you tracking data, and it requires almost no work to take advantage of this free marketing resource.


That’s right! You! 🙂

What can you do?

Install a free QR scanner on your smartphone.

The next time you come across an author’s QR code and you’re curious about the author or the author’s book, scan the QR code and check out the website.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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18 comments on “Marketing Books with QR Codes

  1. I used those for my first convention in 2013. I put them on stickers with the book title, but I’m not sure how well they worked. Ended up being smaller than expected. I hope to have better luck next time.

  2. I have QR codes for my Amazon page and the Goodreads page on the back of my bookmarks. I don’t know if it has made any sales. I have used it in group settings to quickly pull up my Amazon page and read my book blurb to people who expressed interest in learning more about it. (After giving them my logline first.)

  3. I am definitely going to use QR codes to market my book at events. We’ve used it to market our program at fairs and people are more likely to use their phone than take handfuls of brochures.

  4. I use QR codes for sharing my slides and papers during presentations, conferences or when I meet interesting people. I use the mobile application Spraed for this. You create your own content with your paper, PowerPoint, website… in it and than I can share it whenever I want with the people I meet. I believe it was a good example of the Laziness/convenience factor you talked about! 🙂 What do you think?

    • That’s a neat idea. I hadn’t considered QR codes for file sharing. That gives me another idea: An author, for example, could make a free resource, like a PDF booklet, then a QR code to the freebie may help entice people to use the QR code. 🙂

  5. Hi Chris, thanks for the great idea!

    Be aware that many Visual QR Codes that are presented at scanova aren’t readable by many popular QR Code readers. Try to scan the twitter Visual QR Code on their homepage with RedLaser or ShopSavvy.
    Perhaps it will be better to use if you want to insure readability. Visualead also has the Visual QR Code Gen2 technology – better if you care to have a more Visually Appealing results.

    • I have tried Visualead, and I like it, too. Readability is important. I liked the options to upload an image and get a customized visual QR code at first, but the more I think about it, the more I prefer the basic ones (Visualead and Scanova both have those, too). For one, in some cases perhaps those are more readable. For another, and this is why I think major brands have basic b&w QR codes, it’s easier to recognize that it’s a QR code.

      Another concern I had was advertising. It’s my understanding that some free QR codes come with ads.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with QR codes.

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