Google Assistant Joins Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club
Reese Witherspoon’s book club has created a Google Assistant Action offering a “hands-free, immersive reading experience” for members of the actress’s reading group. Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company worked with voice app developer Skilled Creative to produce the skill, which includes regular updates from Witherspoon about the month’s book, among other features.
Read With Reese
The voice app is accessible on Nest smart speakers and displays as well as mobile devices with Google Assistant. Google Assistant users can ask the voice assistant to “read with Reese’s Book Club” to activate the skill. Witherspoon is recording monthly book picks and commentary on each book of the month. There are also quizzes for generating book recommendations. Unsurprisingly, Google is also encouraging people to read or listen to the month’s book through Google Play Books. Current or prospective members of the book club can link their accounts or sign up via Google to join. Non-members can still use the voice app, though they won’t get the emails about the club and some of the other products available through it. Skilled Creative has built a reputation for this kind of voice-based promotions, such as an Alexa alarm playing Coldplay’s newest song and the HBO Max Recommends Alexa skill.
“This was a collaborative effort between Reese’s Book Club, Google, and Skilled Creative, and we’re really proud of how it turned out,” Skilled Creative account lead Heather Peterson told Voicebot. “Voice is evolving so quickly–even a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined creating such a fun, seamless experience with so many complex features. Now, RBC can expand its community and interact with readers in a new, exciting way.”
Connecting voice assistants and literature as interactive experiences is also becoming more common both for adults and children. For instance, Google Play Books launched an audio reading tutor in March. The AI that can read books aloud, automatic or manual page-turning, and access a dictionary for children that will pronounce and define any words a child has trouble understanding. Amazon made a somewhat similar AI reading tutor for kids in June. Alexa also recently connected with the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s free audiobook program for those with vision impairments.
“As a young girl growing up in Venezuela, I had an insatiable appetite for reading. From fictional novels to computer science manuals, you name it, I would read it. Books allowed me to get lost in other worlds, expand my imagination and ultimately inspire me to dream bigger,” Google Assistant senior director of product management Lilian Rincon wrote in a blog post about the new experience. “What I like most about the book club is that each monthly book pick features interesting and diverse narratives from a female perspective. I can’t wait to read with Reese and hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.”