By Brittany Hazelwood
On Tuesday the New Zealand-born, New York-based tech company Booktrack released its first e-book set to synchronized music, The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore, in what company representatives are calling “a new chapter in the evolution of storytelling.” The idea behind Booktrack’s soundtracks is to add synchronized soundtracks and sound effects to the reading experience. Booktrack also announced its transmedia partners including HarperCollins, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Park Road Post, and Full Fathom Five, the publishing company of bestselling author James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces).
Booktrack e-books will be available in the Apple App Store and can be read — and heard — on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Booktrack e-books cost a few dollars more than the average e-book. The Power of Six retails $2 more than its $9.99 original price. If you’re not convoked, download a free Booktrack app of Sherlock Holmes’ The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The musical score is sprinkled with ambient noises including crackling fireplaces, chirping birds and general street harmonies. In the next few months, Booktrack is set to further release The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet and The Three Musketeers, with short stories to come this fall by Salman Rushdie and Jay McInerney.
The music follows the reader based on a words-per-minute reading speed. Don’t know your reading speed? There is a handy speed test inside the app. There is minimal social media integration allowing users to post their thoughts of the app on Facebook.
The idea of playing music to text has spawned a number of Spotify playlists based on books. Authors have also experimented with music and text, including writer James Patterson who has given away CDs to accompany some of his novels. However, for Mark Cameron, co-founder and brother to Booktrack chief executive and co-founder Paul Cameron, the idea was born out of frustration. NYT reports:
“Mark Cameron came up with the idea when he was traveling in Hong Kong and tried to read a book and listen to music on his iPod at the same time. He wondered if there could be a way to combine the experience.”
Fast forward three years later and Cameron’s converted frustration has positively manifested itself into a $12.99 e-book app. Booktrack has also attracted a two powerhouse investors to their management team — Peter Thiel, the cofounder and former CEO of Paypal and an “unnamed” member of Facebook’s board of directors “who was Booktrack’s first external investor” — as well all independent authors.
Booktrack has made its debut to mixed reviews. However Booktrack reps are calling the launch “a milestone in publishing.” In a New York Times interview co-founder Paul Cameron says, “It makes a new and engaging way to read and really enhances the experience and enhances your imagination and keeps you in the story longer. And it makes it fun to read again. If you’re not reading all the time, it might help you rediscover reading.”
Booktrack hosted a launch party at Yotel in New York City on Wednesday evening.