Movie-style soundtracks for immersive e-reading

Mon Jan 4, 2016 7:10am EST
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By Matthew Stock

New Zealand-based startup Booktrack is hoping to change the way people read e-books by incorporating a synchronized soundtrack to accompany the on-page action. It's made up of music, ambient sound and sound effects that dynamically adjust depending on where the reader is up to in the story.

The developers call Booktrack "a disruptive force in the publishing and audio world", comparable to the how the introduction of sound transformed cinema.

"We are the only enhancement for reading delivered while you read. The most powerful thing about reading is being lost in that reading experience, so what we do is add just one layer of that to get you into the experience quicker and keep you there for longer," said Paul Cameron, CEO and Co-founder of Booktrack.

Readers can use Booktrack in their browser or download the software on to their smartphone or tablet.

Currently the top three books in the UK on Booktrack are the Sherlock Holmes stories, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and In the South by Salman Rushdie.

It was the commuter market that prompted the idea for Bootrack, said Cameron, after he saw a trend for people putting on headphones while reading to drown out distractions.

"It was people jumping on buses, trains, ferries, the Tube; plugging in their headphones and reading what was a paper book and is now a screen device. We just thought it was a strange behavior; you don't go home and watch television and turn the volume down and turn the stereo on and listen to unrelated music. So, we thought we could bring that experience together and when we did people really liked it," he said.

"We're fighting against all of the other distractions that we have in modern life, and try to carve out a place for books and reading in it. And that's why you see a rise in audio books, that's why you see people trying to create immersive experiences that sort of push away at the distractions that can pull you out of reading," Michael Tamblyn, CEO of e-reader makers Kobo, told Reuters.   Continued...