Fun With QR Codes

First, if you don’t know what a QR code is, it’s one of those black squares made up of blobby black patterns that are starting to appear everywhere. QR stands for Quick Response, and they’re a kind of barcode. If you have a camera phone, you can read that barcode and … whatever. Here’s a Wiki article about it.

So what? Well, I’ll tell you so what: You can encode a web page in that little square. If you pay money, you can get one in color. If anybody knows a place to get a QR code free that includes color and an identifiable logo, please post that link in the comments.

Here’s what you do: Set up a web page with your information on it–text, pictures, whatever, and go to where you can generate a QR code. I’m usually sending folks to a web page, so I use URL shortener. Once you’ve generated your short url, there’s a little link you can click to generate a QR code for that URL. You can choose to track uses of that particular short URL. I’ve never used the KAYWA QR generator, but it looks simple and useful. Just do a Google search for free QR code generators and see what you like. Free because, you know.

So I set up shortened URLs and QR codes for the pages at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and OmniLit where my sf novel EEL’S REVERENCE is available. When the QR code is generated, just right-click on it and download it (it’s only a picture) to your computer. Then you can play with it.

Click picture to enlarge

This weekend at , I printed out some address labels with the codes on them. I put some on the backs of bookmarks and one on the back of an index card which I wore like a name badge. In the future, I think I’ll include a blurb and cover photo instead of attaching a bookmark to the badge, although that certainly attracted attention.

I’ve heard of authors having T-shirts made up with their book cover on the front and QR coded buy links on the back. This weekend, I saw business cards with QR codes to the author or business’ website in the corner. Imma do that

Speaking of FandomFest, MomGoth saw enough ink this weekend to satisfy even her ink-starved heart. One of my Friday recommends is going to be the body art business that demonstrated to her how stencils are applied–to somebody else, I hasten to say.

And speaking of tattoos, here is the best use of QR codes I’ve ever seen–an animated tattoo! Enjoy:

UPDATE: I did get a T-shirt with my site’s QR code on it, and I had postcards made up with QR codes all over it. I’ll do a post about those and link to it here. Meanwhile, for more betterer information on using QR codes to promote your book, see also Holly Jahangiri’s post on the subject.

WRITING PROMPT: If you could get an animated tattoo, what would it be?




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Fun With QR Codes

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 25, 2011 at 10:06am

      You’re welcome, Kaye! I especially like them for my books, because they’re available digitally only, except for the SIW anthologies, which are available digitally as well as in print. It seems appropriate to use digital codes for them. πŸ™‚

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 25, 2011 at 10:07am

      Sarah, the first time I saw one, I kept crossing my eyes and staring at it because I thought it was one of those 3D pictures. Didn’t work….

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  1. Jacqueline Seewald

    July 25, 2011 at 1:38pm

    I hadn’t a clue! I must be tech challenged. Thanks for keeping us up to speed.

    Jacqueline Seewald

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 25, 2011 at 2:12pm

      Oh, “tech challenged” pretty much describes me! I don’t even HAVE a smart phone or a camera phone. But somehow, QR codes immediately made sense to me. They’re like magic wardrobes that lead people to a wonderful land where they can spend money to buy my books. That kind of technology, I like. πŸ˜‰

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  2. Mary Montague Sikes

    July 25, 2011 at 5:47pm

    Marian, that looks painful. Don’t think I could stay still for someone to create art on my body! Thanks for sharing.

    Hope I can figure out the QR code situation. They sound like a cool promo device!


    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 25, 2011 at 9:48pm

      Monti, I know! I couldn’t bear it. The tattoo guy said, “It doesn’t really hurt. It’s more like a bee sting.” I was like, “Oh, and that isn’t pain? Bee stings don’t hurt?” No tattoos for me, I can tell you! I just have to admire them on other people. πŸ™‚

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  3. katfrench

    July 28, 2011 at 6:04pm

    Since you asked…you can do free color codes in recognizable logo patterns with Microsoft Tag:

    You have to have the Tag reader on your smartphone as opposed to a generic QR reader, but I’ve had HORRIBLE luck ever getting a QR code to scan properly, and much better success with Tag.

    Also, a shortcut for creating shortened URLs + QR codes is to use Google’s URL shortener,

    … and then add “.qr” to the end of the shortened URL, which automagically creates a QR code for that URL.

    For example, links to a QR code for this blog post. And if you have a Gmail or Google Account, it will also show clicks for that shortened URL. πŸ™‚

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Ellis Vidler

    September 24, 2011 at 4:16pm

    You’re a better techie than I am, Marian. I’d never heard of QR codes before this morning. Maybe I’ll try it one day. Soon. πŸ™‚

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 24, 2011 at 5:09pm

      I have them on my business cards and bookmarks. Don’t know if they’ve brought any sales, but they’ve garnered attention. πŸ™‚

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 27, 2011 at 8:39am

      You’re welcome! Use ’em in good health, as my Grandpa used to say. πŸ™‚

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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