Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ebooks with Soundtracks and Sound Effects - Are They for You?

Depending on whom you listen to, ebook popularity is either fading or sales numbers for them have reached a plateau. Either way, that's probably good news for brick and mortar bookstores everywhere.  But don't expect ebook publishers and sellers to just sit back and watch what is happening to ebook sales.  Instead, publishers are looking for new ways to enhance the experience of reading an ebook - and what could be better, some of them say, than sound effects specifically produced for the ebook you are reading?

According to The Independent, popularity of soundtrack enhanced ebooks in the U.K. is second only to their popularity in the United States (where have I been on this one?):
So if ebook popularity has faded slightly, how have soundtracked books captured a growing market? Their growth, it seems, goes hand in hand with a resurgence in audiobooks and podcasts. Both have been given a leg up by improved access through iTunes and landmark releases such as the now-classic Stephen Fry-read Harry Potter series and true-crime genre-reinventing podcast Serial. It appears that we still want in-depth, long-form stories, simply in new and different ways from the printed page alone. Some 10 per cent of those surveyed by Nielsen said that they were willing to pay extra for new and interactive ebook features.

Not everyone agrees with the concept, however, and some of spoken out rather loudly about the BookTracks app.  Here's a bit of what Tech Crunch's  Paul Carr has to say:
It, hopefully, goes without saying (not least because so many people have already said it) that Booktrack is a laughably stupid idea. The whole point of reading fiction is to remove the reader from reality — for the physical book to drop away and the sights, sounds and smells of the story to play out in the mind. As such, soundtracks and animated arrows urging you to read at a fixed (“it’s adjustable!” the PR will be yelling at this point) pace are an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction. In fact, they’re so at odds with the way that people read books that one has to wonder whether the company’s founders have ever done so.
YouTube Demo Video

So there you have the two very different points-of-view. I do think I'm going to download the app to see for myself if this is something I might on occasion enjoy. Take a look at the YouTube promotion for BookTrack and read the two articles, and if anyone out there tries it, or has already tried it, please do let me know what you think of the app - and the overall experience.  Thanks.


  1. I like my imagination to do the work, so I hate this idea. I also find that soundtracks in movies and TV shows have become intrusive, often drowning out the dialog. I like quiet!

  2. Joan, I downloaded the software and sample a couple of Sherlock Holmes books to see what they are like. I tend to agree with you that the sounds are more distracting than anything else...horses clopping by outside, street chatter that you can't quite understand, etc.... but some of the music was nice and well placed. Overall, though, I don't think this is for me.

    I do, however, often read to music recorded in an album that titles itself "Music to Study To" and that works well for me (I found it on Prime Music), so I have mixed emotions about this whole thing, I guess.