Booktrack, a startup that publishes e-books containing movie-like soundtracks, went live with its first few titles yesterday.The digital age just gave birth to something few of us were clamoring for, but that might turn out to be a worthwhile experience: books with soundtracks.
The result is a Kindle-style e-book with music and sound effects that play in the background as you read. The books are sold as stand-alone mobile applications, currently for iOS with Android support reportedly underway.
The company, which recieved funding from PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, launched with a new book called "The Power of Six" by Pittacus Lore, along with a few free titles.
When we downloaded Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Speckled Band for iPad and started reading, scene-appropriate, cinematic-sounding music began playing. A few paragraphs in, we could hear the crackle of a fireplace and later, creaking doors and footsteps. Some of the sound effects were slightly distracting, but just subtle enough that they didn't interrupt our reading.
What makes this approach interesting is the underlying technology, which syncs the changes in sound with your reading speed, which is something the application learns as you go. Some readers might find the tiny triangular icon sliding down the margin of the page as you go distracting. For others, it may be akin to using one's finger as a pacer while reading a book.
For some people, this more immersive reading experience might be the perfect antidote to endless digital distractions, allowing for more sustained focus on reading long-form material.
The product has been met with mixed reactions. Some are open to the possibility that this may be part of the future of books, while others, like Wired's Charlie Sorrel, find the experience to be distracting and unnecessary.
Do you think books with soundtracks are the future of reading or a ridiculous gimmick? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.