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Booktrack Adds Music and Sound Effects To Ebooks 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the would-you-like-some-noise-with-those-words? dept.
Zothecula writes "There's no doubt that a soundtrack can significantly enhance the immersiveness and emotional impact of films and TV programs. But can some audio accompaniment do the same thing for books? New York City-based startup Booktrack thinks so and has released an iOS app — with an Android app also on the way — that adds soundtracks to eBooks. As the user reads they can listen to ambient background noise relevant to the book's current setting, specific sound effects synchronized to the text as it is read, and music. But does a soundtrack 'boost the reader's imagination and engagement' as the company states, or does it just create another distraction to be overcome when delving into a book on the bus on the way home?"

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Booktrack Adds Music and Sound Effects To Ebooks

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  • Oh great... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:58PM (#37347590)

    Hey what next moving pictures? I think they call that TV.

    Of all the things I will miss if I live long enough a good printed paperback is very close to the top, maybe even higher up than cheese...

    • by macshit (157376)

      Of all the things I will miss if I live long enough a good printed paperback is very close to the top, maybe even higher up than cheese...

      Cheese is going to be replaced with ... what, echeese?!

      Wait ... echeese ... oh yeah, I guess that's what this story is about...

  • Like kids fighting on the lawn.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:00PM (#37347604)

    *ahhhh,,,.. pssshhhhhhhhhrrrr* "Nooch Vader!"

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:03PM (#37347622)
    ...if the soundtrack was something more suitable, like the Benny Hill theme.
  • ...is spinning in his grave.
  • Based on my experience with audiobooks, I can't support this product.

    • by lucm (889690)

      Audiobooks are great, except when the narrator tries to change his voice depending on who's talking. It's extremely creepy when a male is doing a female voice.

      • One of my favorite readers does it in a way that it comes off as comical, rather than creepy.

        Fortunately, "comical" is a good thing when Nigel Planer is reading the Discworld novels.

    • I agree. I used to listen to audiobooks while commuting and found music and sound effects distracting in the few titles that had it.

    • I want my vinyl to play music and my book to have text in it.

      What is it with you youthes and those satanic audio/e/i/©books??
      Get of my laaww.... (heartattack)

  • This ebook sponsored by Taco Bell, now leave Borders and run for the border.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:05PM (#37347634) Journal
    So, after I'm finished inserting irksome background noise to compensate for any deficiencies an author may have had in terms of showing rather than telling, or deficiencies I may have in reading ability, can I have a smartphone app that detects when I'm in a restaurant and automatically inserts the sound of somebody with an annoying nasal voice having an obnoxious conversation? How about some random honking every time my phone detects that it is going more than 30mph?

    Bloody hell, people, if there is one thing that modernity needs like a hole in the head, it is more fucking background noise...
  • by sg_oneill (159032) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:05PM (#37347636)

    Fan slash fiction is about to get even creepier folks. Much much creepier.

  • ...to books. Thank You
  • but who cares? This is hardly an original idea or concept.
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      I'm going to go with "easy to sell to venture capitalists, not designed to actually sell to consumers". Pump and dump. Move on to the "next big thing".

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:13PM (#37347678) Journal

    Try listening to some of GraphicAudio's audiobooks instead. They're more like radio dramas than audiobooks, though

    • by dbIII (701233)
      I don't understand why there is not more of doing the obvious of having an audiobook as the soundtrack. People that don't have English as a first language could benefit from that, as could many native English speakers that use words that they have read but never heard.
      • Because that would be horrible. Even the most apathetic reader I've ever known reads to himself faster than someone reading aloud. Hearing someone saying something that you already read a page and a half back would be even more distracting than the stupid chirps and whistles that this idiotic idea would bring. Kind of like that one douchebag everyone knows who always thinks it's clever to yell out random numbers when someone's trying to do math.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          All that stuff about reading quickly and you obviously never even made it to the second sentence :(
          Robotic text to speech on apple products or kindles is fairly useless for people that are learning English.
          • Actually, I simply read it differently than you meant it. I thought you were suggesting that as one possible use instead of being that sort of niche product.

      • by macshit (157376)

        I don't understand why there is not more of doing the obvious of having an audiobook as the soundtrack. People that don't have English as a first language could benefit from that, as could many native English speakers that use words that they have read but never heard.

        Yes!

        The notion of "sound effects for books" seems absurdly stupid, but the idea of synchronized voice for foreign-language learners is brilliant.

        Thus naturally they're going for the former ... :[

  • Call me crazy but I prefer reading in silence. I don't want a television experience with a book. If I did I'd watch television.

    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      In the end, this trend just raises barriers to entry to smaller producers since their books can't be as "in" without reluctanctly adding the same features to fit in. This is the same inflation forcing any console game and Hollywood movie to require a bigger and bigger budget just to get mediocre sales without providing anything new. And it will shrink the brain: gray matter stops flexing and Alzheimers is more likely to ensue. As an audience we'll all just get used to expecting cues before reacting at all.

    • by Leuf (918654)
      You can't always control your environment. I've tried to read outside on a nice day and had construction going on nearby make it impossible to enjoy reading. It's hard to supply your own background music that stays appropriate to the book so if done right I could see it being useful for that type of situation.
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Call me crazy but I prefer reading in silence. I don't want a television experience with a book. If I did I'd watch television.

      More like a radio experience, but I agree with you.

  • There's no doubt that a soundtrack can significantly enhance the immersiveness and emotional impact of films and TV programs. But can some audio accompaniment do the same thing for books?

    - No, it can't.

    I can think of one useful application of this technology - Reading a music score while listening to the music. That would be cool.

    Maybe traditional books could get in on the multi-sense stimulation fad with a scratch-and-sniff panel on the back of every page. They wont though because it's a fucking st
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      Why can't they just leave nice simple books alone? If they want to invent new paradigms to value-add to the ocular experience they should go waste their time adding 3D to movies or some such shit.
      • That is the dumbest comment ever. They are leaving books alone, they're creating something new. You can still go to Borders and get a normal book. I mean, for a few weeks anyway. :)
    • It could be good. Adding a soundtrack can really make you feel more immersed in things, that's why we have soundtracks to movies in the first place. If it didn't have an effect, there would be no point of having sound tracks for movies, it's not like violins at the moment of a first kiss actually has any reflection of reality, and yet it can set the mood, at to the feeling.

      That said, doing so would be VERY VERY hard. A movie lasts a couple hours, a book lasts much longer. You would need high quality sound
      • there is also the issue of timing. everyhing in a movie is precisely timed so, for example, you get an orchestral stab when the monster face appears in the window. how are you going to achieve this sychronisation with the reader without severly restricrting the amount of words visible at a time? so you are limited to picking a sound loop per page with none of the dramatic timing of a movie score.
        • Get a camera that watches your eye movement and plans accordingly. Short of that, put anything dramatic that happens right on a page turn. :)
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        It could be good. Adding a soundtrack can really make you feel more immersed in things, that's why we have soundtracks to movies in the first place. If it didn't have an effect, there would be no point of having sound tracks for movies, it's not like violins at the moment of a first kiss actually has any reflection of reality, and yet it can set the mood, at to the feeling. That said, doing so would be VERY VERY hard. A movie lasts a couple hours, a book lasts much longer. You would need high quality sound-effects and scoring the whole way through, you couldn't have cheap repetitions over and over, people would hate that. And the cost of creating a high quality soundtrack to a nine hour (or whatever) book is not low. Not low at all.

        People read at different speeds, so it seems impossible to do anythin more than have vague background music. If a book that takes you ten hours to read takes me four, how are you going to compress or extend the music to fit both? In films, the soundtrack matches exactly to the action on screen, I don't see how you could do that with variable speeds of reading.

        • Yeah, that is a primary difficulty, but I think there are several ways around it. The most obvious is to change the sound based on what page you are on. If the music loops a couple times on each page it won't be too bad. Of course ideal would be to have the soundtrack match the exact word you are reading, but I don't think that is an easy thing to do.
  • talkies anyone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eyezen (548114) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:58PM (#37347858)
    We should go a step further and add a audio based narrative. Then we dont even have to read. Then for fun throw in some video in which people act out the scenes of the book. Then we dont even have to use our imagination to recreate any imagery. Then some day we can add things like special effects to jazz it all up.
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @11:07PM (#37347902)
    it was so hard to be annoying on the air plane while reading.
  • long before I jack in headphones just to read a book with immersive sound.
  • Balderdash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @11:43PM (#37348076)
    Since these guys even thought of this idea, they are idiots. First of all, the only person who has the right to choose a soundtrack is the original author.
    Second, the whole idea of books is a completely immersive experience. This merely shows me these morons are not readers and don't know that the addition of a soundtrack adds nothing to the experience. Another stupid waste of time app.
    • by rdnetto (955205)

      I like the idea. A combination of music (via headphones) and books would make the experience more immersive - with just books you can still hear ambient noise.
      I agree that the only person who has the right to choose the soundtrack is the author, but they won't even have that choice without the platform. Also, it's the author's (or publisher's) choice whether to let them do that or not - an ebook with a soundtrack is quite clearly a derivative work, so if only the right to redistribute was granted, it's infr

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        A combination of music (via headphones) and books would make the experience more immersive

        No, it wouldn't. You obviously don't read much.

        • by rdnetto (955205)

          I do actually. Now that we're done making unfounded assertions, care to provide some reasoning?

      • You are free to add your own music as you wish when you read. However, this smacks of forcing every reader to endure some non-author bozo's music selections. It has nothing to do with the book. Have you ever read a novel? The book provides its own soundtrack. A novel by design appeals to all of your senses--and does not need some moron's music choices.
        • by rdnetto (955205)

          However, this smacks of forcing every reader to endure some non-author bozo's music selections. It has nothing to do with the book.

          A poor selection in music will presumably negatively impact the sales. This is where capitalism should kick in, as another poster recognizes. [slashdot.org]
          Besides, it's not like Android lacks a volume/mute control if you don't like the music. And there's always the original PDF.

          The idea is fairly innovative - I find it odd that so many slashdotters are so quick to criticise it. Even if a bad idea, surely the innovation itself is worth acknowledging.

    • You lack imagination, and insulting them makes you look like a moron as well.

      I doubt I would want audio to the books but there is plenty of simple stuff you could do: imagine the hobbits wandering through the forest. You hear a slight wind moving through the leaves of the trees. When you turn to the next page wich starts like "And they desided to sit down for a second breakfast" a slight plob of a corked bottle is to hear. When they continue and reach a river the wind and birds and tree sounds get dimmer an

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I doubt I would want audio to the books but there is plenty of simple stuff you could do: imagine the hobbits wandering through the forest. You hear a slight wind moving through the leaves of the trees. When you turn to the next page wich starts like "And they desided to sit down for a second breakfast" a slight plob of a corked bottle is to hear. When they continue and reach a river the wind and birds and tree sounds get dimmer and you hear water. I can imagine if you have just ambient sound a little bit above auditable level it could be quite interesting.

        Apart from as a teaching aid for aliens or dramatically revived coma patients who have no idea what words like "wind" or "breakfast" mean, your suggestion seems utterly pointless.

        You might just as well watch a movie.

        • When I'm sitting in a train reading an eBook, I certainly don't want to watch a movie.

          After all: my mind is very visual. Most movies I have seen once I don't want to see again. But books I can read a hundred times.

          As I said, the GP lacks imagination. This is not about what is right and what is wrong: it is only about 'taste'.

      • So, do you think that Tolkien omitted sound from "The Hobbit"? Of course not. The sounds occur in your imagination. Each reader creates their own soundtrack, as inspired by the author. A good author such as Tolkien considers all five senses when writing a book.
        What if your soundtrack-adder added some rinky-dink toy-piano music when the author intended the scene to be scary. Your soundtrack-adder just interfered with the artistic effect of the book. Think that would make Tolkien happy? There are a thousand
        • Well,

          I certainly have no further senses then my eye involved in reading. If you hear the wood and smell it then its fine for you.

          Calling me a low level reader on a level of a third grader is a needless insult. Calling me a oron even more.

          It seems to eclipse you that a sound "enhanced" ebook certainly a) can disable the sound, and b) you can just buy the version without sound.

          I don't get why you make such a fuss about it, especially why do you attack me??

  • Planned features include moving pictures, followed by the removal of text, as it will be obsolete.

  • Does this involve eye-tracking software? Or is it just going to warn me ahead of time when something bad is about to happen, like fight music in a video game? And speaking of which, can it play the FF7 victory music whenever something awesome happens? 'Cause that might actually sell me on it....

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:56AM (#37348434)

    I can see this working for some readers, but it would be an awfully delicate balance.

    The music would have to compliment the text, rather than distract from it. That means no gimmicks (e.g. sound effects), smooth transitions (remember, people read at different speeds), and quite probably multiple sound tracks (what one person finds emotionally moving, another will find annoying).

    Production costs are another issue. Books cost bugger all to produce, at least compared to other media and the duration that people will use it. But they typically suffer from low volume sales. Are consumers willing to pay for that?

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:34AM (#37348584) Journal
    Worst idea ever. The last thing I want is someone else's noises invading my reading. I'll keep sticking to my nice, old-fashioned, uncomplicated paper books, thank you very much.
    • by nhat11 (1608159)
      Have you even tried it? I thought people were more open minded around here.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Have you even tried it? I thought people were more open minded around here.

        I don't expect he's tried injecting heroin directly into his cock and then jumping off a mountain either.

        I, personally, have never arm-wrestled a hungry tiger, but I'm prepared to take a wild guess that it would be a bad idea.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        I'll be fair about this: I suppose if someone is one of those people who like to have the stereo (and maybe the TV as well) turned on and blaring while they read or study, then this might be a positive thing for me. Personally I don't know anybody like that, I know people for that, like myself, reading is a quiet-time thing, and I want/need quiet when I'm studying something, too. I do much reading just before going to sleep at night, too, because it takes my mind off the day and allows me to relax, and havi
        • by nhat11 (1608159)
          I dunno I thought the same way at first but 1. there's nothing like this really here in the states so you have to try to find it to even try it out. 2. you have a choice to engage whatever activities you want. 3. People who actively seek something, that's an individual preference 4. People rejecting technological advances, I know some people that do after some soul seeking they found a balance.
          • by nhat11 (1608159)
            Basically it's foolish to reject all technology. You're always affected by technology indirectly or directly. Learn to deal or find a balance in it just like anything else in life.
  • ...a publisher or a guild of publishers and/or writers are going to say this service violates the terms of a license they already have with the ebook services, and come down on these guys like a bag of hammers.

    .
  • You know, this has halready been done. With pictures. [wikipedia.org] The only new idea here was to decrease the amount of poorly written pornography.

  • As the reviewer found, just distracting. If you want sound effects, get an audio book or full on radio play. When I'm reading I might put the radio on to some bland pop music station. But not something I actually pay attention to.

    They should be targeting young children, say less than 8. They might be enticed to read a story book with some fun sound effects. There are plenty of book-toys you can buy with buttons to press to hear the cow moo, etc.

  • Text 2.0 was a research project undertaken at DFKI, the German AI research institute. - Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QocWsWd7fc [youtube.com] More Info here: http://text20.net/ [text20.net]
  • Say, for example, I'm reading Everybody Poops...
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Wait a few years when we're back in the "hey I have a novelty idea that nobody ever had before me - let's add smells to stuff" period, which cycles every decade or so.

      Then you'll be glad it's only sound effects this time around.

      • by Fned (43219)

        No need to wait a few years!

        http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2555887104/tt1517489

  • Come on, who among us when immersed in a good book would even be aware of the soundtrack?

    I've had people practically shouting at me before and been completely oblivious.

  • It's much more popular in Japan. The music, pictures and sound isn't as distracting as you think. You still keep the imagination part while reading while the sound, pictures and music just help to enhance what you're imagining. Generally if you find those distracting, you can turn off all the sound off.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      It's much more popular in Japan.

      Is that supposed to be a good thing?

      Considering the set of things, "popular in Japan", I don't really think that's much of a recommendation.

      Christ, I'm sitting here at 8:29am making a mental list of the things that are "popular in Japan" and it's actually making me a little bit nauseous.

      • by nhat11 (1608159)
        I just say more popular, meaning its more accepted in other countries than here. Don't jump to conclusions as everything you said is nothing what I mean.
      • by nhat11 (1608159)
        As I read your post, it's ridiculous your natural reaction to the word "popular" is so negative. The word popularity is subjective to each person. To me it just means more accepted.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The word popularity is subjective to each person.

          No. "Popularity" is not a "subjective" measure. It means the percentage of people who find something acceptable or desirable. It is not "subjective" to say that Lady Gaga is popular or that the Star Wars movies are popular.

          I think what you're trying to say is that popularity is something that can be measured in different ways. That's not the same as saying it's subjective.

          And no, my reaction was not negative because of the world "popular". My reaction was

  • Often I like to listen to music while I read a book, but then the problem is that the music can clash with the events of the book (happy song comes up on playlist during somber part of book). I think this might not be a bad idea, if they can pull it off tastefully.
  • Bookphoto adds images to audiobooks.

  • I'm surprised to see that the only comments modded up are those bashing the idea. I think it's novel. I imagine it's extremely difficult to implement with any positive effect and in this case probably doesn't work very well, but i can certainly see cases where this would be at least interesting, if not fun. I frequently read with music on in the background, i think it can help set a stage. I mean, imagine reading a good World War II novel with the soundtrack to something like the Band of Brothers soundtrack

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