Portfolio.com: August 24, 2011
Music to Readers' Ears
Listen up, e-book readers, because you’re going to love the sound of this new startup.
New York-based Booktrack, which creates synchronized soundtracks that accompany electronic books, launched today and plans to change the way we experience literature. The startup combines tailored music and sound effects with words on the page, all automatically paced to users’ individual reading speeds.
CEO and cofounder Paul Cameron, a New Zealander, likens the technology to movie soundtracks in the way they add another level of audience engagement.
“Tens of millions of commuters around the world listen to a playlist that’s disconnected from what they’re reading, perhaps a sad song with an upbeat story,” he said. “Now they can replicate a movie-like sound experience and fundamentally transform their reading experience.
The technology has already been integrated into its first novel—The Power of Six, by Pittacus Lore—and is currently available for the iPhone and iPad, with Android apps coming soon. The company has teamed up with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Park Road Post Production to develop the soundtracks and plans to publish additional tracks for classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Pride and Prejudice, and Romeo and Julietin the coming months.
The company’s business model will entail splitting profits from the book soundtracks with participating publishers, authors, composers, and musicians.
Booktrack is backed by Peter Thiel, former PayPal CEO and Facebook investor, Mark D’Arcy, Facebook’s director of global creative solutions, and Derek Handley, CEO and cofounder of The Hyperfactory, a mobile business management firm. The company has also received financial support from several government agencies in New Zealand.
“It’s always exciting to witness the creation of a new form of media,” Thiel said. “Booktrack’s technology promises to captivate readers in a way that will seem intuitive in hindsight and compelling even after.”
But we wonder—will the ambiance and sound effects enhance your reading experience or distract you from the words on the page? Check out the demo below for a look at the technology and let us know what you think in the comments.