February 14, 2012

Does your book need a soundtrack?


Booktrack will make sound effects for you while you read.

A new start up called Booktrack is seeking to include sound effects and ambient soundtracks to back your favorite literary titles.

A couple of things to make clear about this latest enhancement to the suddenly insufficient book: This is not an audio book. Booktrack books includes no spoken-word component to the audio presentation. Instead, they will provide a content specific soundtrack to the section of the story or book that you are reading. Booktrack is being packaged as an enhanced eBook, with pricing that sells individual short stories at .99 cents and novels at $2 to $4 over a novel’s standard ebook price.

Founder Paul Cameron explains his business for Fast Company:

“Music brings emotion to a story,” says cofounder Paul Cameron. “We’ve created an experience in which text and music are synchronized through a whole book.” At the heart of the process is an ear for intricate sound design that rivals Hollywoodian efforts. In the Salman Rushdie short story, “In the South,” readers hear ambient street noise — food sellers, cars, and distant music — that corresponds to the environment of the protagonists. The cues then fade as the story unfolds and a bed of traditional Indian music begins. There are no words, just melody, with individual sound effects that are pegged to specific actions.

It would seem that thanks to Booktrack the centuries old book — hell, the millennia-old act of reading — has finally received the improvement it has sorely needed. In the past, if a reader wanted to enjoy Salman Rushdie‘s exotic vibes while reading one of his stories they would have had to put on sitar music all on their own. Harder still would be to synthesize the roaring engine of James Bond‘s Bentley in Casino Royale, or the thunderous machine guns and artillery of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet On Western Front. It was not uncommon for readers who tried to manually make these sound effects to find themselves with sore tongues, parched mouths and extremely limited reading comprehension.

Basically, foley artists should probably ask for cash up front on this project.


Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.