Are ebooks better with sound effects?

by Public Libraries on April 11, 2014

Headphones Books

Booktrack is a company which has produced a platform enabling sound to be added to an ebook. Some do not see the point of this, calling it gimmicky, but CEO Paul Cameron strongly disagrees with such assessments. He believes there is great potential to having sound playing while reading. Booktrack has already released one version of adding music to an ebook and has been working on another version that is about to be released.

The first platform released was the Booktrack Studio. This application allows anybody to create ebooks with sound. This is also called adding a soundtrack since it functions much like the soundtrack to a movie. Although Booktrack Studio has only been around five months, users have created over 3,600 of the booktracks in 30 different languages. This proves that people are enjoying adding music to what they read.

The new application being released is Booktrack Classroom. Booktrack has worked hard to get this made and ready to be released. A huge player was Sparkbox Ventures who helped Booktrack to raise $3 million in Series A funding, to get this new version completed. Sparkbox led this round of funding but donors from the first round, like Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Productions, contributed to this second round as well. Although functionally the same, Booktrack Classroom will enable students to build, listen, and share soundtracks for ebooks for free.

Booktrack Classroom was aggressively pursued due to studies made on the effects of reading with music. Studies have found that when reading a booktrack, a student spends 30% more time engrossed in the material while comprehension also rose by 17%. The study was repeated, using adults instead of children, and nearly identical results were received. This demonstrates that booktracks could help make reading a more dynamic experience which gets the reader to feel a greater sense of involvement.

Booktrack’s ability to add sound, from music to ambient noise, is simple but powerful. When reading a story normally, we engage but there is some detachment there. When music helps set the mood or the sound of animals is heard in the bushes, then total immersion in the reading occurs. It is this immersion that Paul Cameron was hoping for with booktracks.

The process of adding sound or music to an ebook isn’t all that difficult. Simply select the text you want to work with and add sound from the library. The library currently consists of 20,000 tracks which can be used with half of them being owned directly by Booktrack. The other half are licensed and those cost an extra fee to use. Plus, the soundtrack plays along to your reading speed rather than being played at a static speed, which would cause some to hear the audio in the wrong places.

Not everyone that reads will enjoy booktracks, but you can see how it can appeal to a broad audience. It is fun to set up the ebook with music and sounds that appeal to you; and hearing other peoples’ soundtrack experiments is entertaining as well. The success of booktracks in getting students more engaged in reading, and the increased comprehension could prove invaluable. This is a fascinating new technology which has the potential to drastically change reading in the classroom.

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