Is There a Future for Enhanced Ebooks? Booktrack Founder Says Yes.
Enhanced ebooks remain a hotly debated topic in the industry. Although many publishers, especially those serving the children's and education markets, have embraced the new tech, others have criticized interactivity as a distracting add-on. Booktrack, a content creation and distribution platform, has taken a unique approach to interactivity by developing an audio feature that enhances the read much like a movie soundtrack accompanies a film. Instead of taking the reader outside of the story, Booktrack helps authors and publishers create music and sound effects that sync with the story and progress with the reader. This actually improves reader comprehension, says founder and CEO Paul Cameron. Following Cameron explains the future of audio-enhanced ebooks and the impact he anticipates it will have on book publishing.
What problem are you solving?
Just as sound transformed silent film forever, Booktrack is a disruptive force in the publishing and literary worlds. It provides authors and publishers with a new platform through which to market their work and reach a wider audience.
There are many existing entertainment products that aim to make the experience of reading more interactive, such as embedded video and games, but they all require the reader to step out of the story. Booktrack doesn't do that. Booktrack is the only reading enhancement that is delivered while you read.
Our technology also helps to focus readers and keeps the attention where it should stay: within the story. Two independent university studies by New York University and the University of Auckland have proven that reading with Booktrack increases reading comprehension and engagement with text.
How did you come up with this idea?
My brother and co-founder of Booktrack, Mark Cameron, actually came up with the idea while taking the ferry to work one day. Mark was reading a book and listening to music at the same time. He noticed that at certain points of the story, the music perfectly matched what was happening in the scene, which really emphasized the suspense of the plot. That was the birth of Booktrack.
The emergence of tablet devices and mobile reading apps suits Booktrack perfectly. Our mobile reader technology allows people to read on the go, and as it did with Mark, listening to synchronized movie-style soundtracks can really help you tune out outside noise and concentrate on a story when reading in public spaces.
What are the most important trends in publishing today?
Without a doubt, the most significant trend in publishing is the emergence of self-publishing. The last few years have been a whirlwind for self-published authors. They spent a lot of time gaining credibility, but now with success stories such as Hugh Howey-we actually just finished a major short story competition with him-I don't think credibility is an issue anymore.
What we will see in the near future is a merging of traditional and self-publishing; more hybrid authors and more authors choosing to publish on multiple platforms. It's already starting to happen. Publishers will also come to the party as they work out how to best offer assistance to self-publishing authors in new business models.
Booktrack sits at the perfect sweet spot in the future of reading. We have the capacity to reach a much wider audience and the ability to cut through the industry noise to offer something that is truly unique for a younger generation that is looking for a new reading experience.
Monetization is our next big milestone. We're working on allowing authors and publishers to set their own prices and sell their soundtracked works through our platform. We will be expanding with a whole suite of services and add-ons that will enable Booktrack to continue its trajectory in 2015.