Audio books have often been perceived as the poor cousin to the traditional book format, usually reserved for those unable to read for themselves, i.e the very young or those elderly folk who buy heavyweight hardbacks with oversized print.
For everyone else, being read to creates a sense of detachment from the text, never fully replicating the immersive experience of being buried in a book personally.
However, with the sweeping digitisation of the publishing world and the rise of the ever popular Kindle, a new opportunity to engage readers with sound is beginning to emerge, one that could not only alter the way we interact with books, but one that could initiative a new lease of life for the somewhat redundant music album format.
Booktrack is a new technology emanating out of New Zealand, which is being heralded (well, by the people behind the project at least) as “the future of reading”. A bold statement, but one that, although in the nascent stages, may not be as far fetched as it sounds. Booktrack aims to provide audio elements normally associated with movies - from ambient helicopter sounds to atmospheric music - to a novel as you read, delivering a compelling audio addition to your literary experience regardless of the speed you read at.
"Until today, technology that can synchronise sound and music within an e-book did not exist - something almost as hard to imagine as a movie with no soundtrack,” said Booktrack co-founder and CEO Paul Cameron at the launch of the new format.
There is added potential here for the music industry as well as the publishing world, which could turn the somewhat underwhelming album format into a hybrid book experience – delivering a much needed boost for both sectors. Could the concept album now be reborn with a literary element thrown in? Booktrack could potentially now pave the way for authors to collaborate directly with music artists on new works; giving the music industry a whole new product category and the publishing business a direct line to established youth audiences.
The first major title from Booktrack, 'The Power of Six' (the sequel to teen Sci-Fi drama ‘I am number Four’ – which was recently made into a movie) features 70 originally scored music pieces in collaboration between Sony/ATV and Harper Collins.
The main hurdle, however, is still the perception barrier when it comes to audio books as being decidedly unsexy when compared to movies, something that Booktrack is dealing with from the offset, as it teases its new product with help from supermodel Petra Nemcova (see the the trailer below).
Whether you’ll be opening up the next Stieg Larsson novel to an opening soundtrack by Kasabian or the new Jodi Picoult to the dulcet tones of Ellie Goulding remains to be seen. However, we are watching – or should that be listening – with interest to see how this concept evolves.