Many people slip into their private world, plugging in their iPod and listening to their favourite music while at the same time reading their latest novel.
Auckland-based innovator, Booktrack, decided to blend the two activities, and the unique product quickly received international acclaim.
Booktrack, founded by brothers Paul and Mark Cameron, developed patented technology to add synchronised movie-style soundtracks to e-books. The soundtrack adapts to the story line and the individual’s reading pace, creating an immersive and enjoyable reading experience.
A New York University study has shown the experience increases comprehension and retention rates.
Reading never sounded so good. The volume of the music, sound effects and audio track layers can be lowered or raised depending on the reader’s preference. And if you lose your place on the page, you just tap on the word and the audio synchronises to where you left off.
"Never before have books been more accessible, yet reading rates have declined rapidly and we have brought a whole new dynamic to the reading experience", said Paul Cameron, Booktrack chief executive. "People come away and say that’s an enhancing and enjoyable experience."
"Nowadays, with videos and games the entertainment choices are very competitive, and we are bringing reading back to the forefront,’’ he said.
Booktrack includes original and licensed music, some of it performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with all soundtracks mixed and produced by Academy Award-winning audio team at Park Road Post Productions (Lord of the Rings). Authors such as Salman Rushdie are working with composers to create the appropriate soundtracks for their books.
The Cameron brothers spent four years developing their product and Booktrack was launched commercially in August 2011, backed by a group of notable investors. They included Americans Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, and Mark D’Arcy, director of Global Creative Solutions at Facebook.
The Booktrack Book Shelf interface. Photo © Booktrack. Booktrack won the most innovative software product and mobile technology categories at the 2012 New Zealand Hi-Tech awards. American newspaper Huffington Post named Booktrack one of the 10 hot companies to watch over the next year.
The soundtracks can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads, laptops, personal computers and Android tablets. Booktrack was a top 10 book application in 20 countries by downloads within weeks of being featured on Apple’s iTunes store.
Booktrack now has sales offices in New York and San Francisco, while the research and development is still completed at home in Auckland.
"We will remain a New Zealand-based company with a global focus’’, said Paul Cameron. "The opportunities are massive. You can apply the soundtrack to any text whether it’s a book, blog or letter, and we just want people to participate and enjoy a new reading experience."