Innovation and reading – not exactly synonymous

Recently, Booktrack was fortunate to win the Innovation in Media, Music and Entertainment category at the New Zealand Innovators Awards. Innovation is one of the buzz-words of today – used to describe nearly every “new” product that is launched. However, it hasn’t been a word that could be used to describe reading for a long time, 2,000 years in fact. Of course publishing has changed, in particular with the rise of eBooks and eReaders, but how we read has not.

Innovate (verb): to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.

Recently, Booktrack was fortunate to win the Innovation in Media, Music and Entertainment category at the New Zealand Innovators Awards. Innovation is one of the buzz-words of today – used to describe nearly every “new” product that is launched. However, it hasn’t been a word that could be used to describe reading for a long time, 2,000 years in fact. Of course publishing has changed, in particular with the rise of eBooks and eReaders, but how we read has not.

Booktrack fits both sides of the definition – it’s a completely new entertainment category, as well as being a change to the established act of reading a book. What’s interesting however, the idea of merging sound and text is not new. This can be traced as far back as the invention of Opera in Renaissance Italy. Obviously the fixed location and time, as well as the expensive price of admission, meant that this early attempt of merging sound and text did not have a sizable effect on society. What it did though was create a brand new entertainment category, and pave the way for innovations from the phonograph to the radio and now to the iPod to bring music and sound to the masses. In addition, adding sound to film was a breakthrough in successfully bringing together story and audio to create an absorbing entertainment experience.

But reading had not changed. Despite all of the creative innovations of the last century, the combining of mediums, and advancements in technology, linking sound to a story in its simplest form never caught on.

The concept made sense and people had dabbled in it – R. Glenn Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth was published with music to go along with the book and James Patterson personally commissioned a soundtrack to accompany one of his Maximum Ride stories – but with little success.

The problem was the technology did not exist to seamlessly combine text and audio – until now. We all read at different speeds, so a one-size fits all approach does not work. Booktrack’s innovation as a product is that its state of the art technology tracks your reading speed and synchronizes music, ambient sound, and sound effects to this. It’s also the only enhancement to reading delivered to you while you read. All other attempts, such as adding video and games to eBooks, make you stop reading – which creates an ineffective and frustrating experience.

Booktrack’s innovation, however, stretches much further – we see it as the first real, long-term innovation to reading in 2,000 years. And just as the invention and innovation of the eBook and eReaders made Booktrack possible, we believe Booktrack will redefine reading and open the way for a host of exciting new innovations. Exciting stuff!

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