booktrack_logoWhen you’re reading an e-book, have you ever caught yourself wishing it had a better soundtrack? Or, for that matter, a soundtrack at all? Start-up company Booktrack seems to think that all the problems with people not wanting to read anymore can be fixed by adding ambient music and sound effects to e-books.

The books include some new titles as well as some public-domain works, and are currently only available for iOS devices (though will be launching on Android soon). I personally have a hard time imagining anybody will find this desirable save for brief novelty value; it puts me in mind of the gimmicks that William Castle used to try to get people in to see his schlocky movies. (Smell-o-vision, anyone?) But Booktrack CEO Paul Cameron claims publishers find the idea attractive.

“It’s all about monetization angles,” Cameron said. “When we take this to publishers, they instantly say, ‘It can help us stand out in the market place and sell more books.’ It rejuvenates back catalogs. Imagine bringing back Stephen King with a soundtrack.” (The company does not currently have a deal with Stephen King.)

Stand out in the market, maybe. But is it in a way they want? Certainly anybody stands out when people point and laugh at them.

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TeleRead Editor Chris Meadows has been writing for us--except for a brief interruption--since 2006. Son of two librarians, he has worked on a third-party help line for Best Buy and holds degrees in computer science and communications. He clearly personifies TeleRead's motto: "For geeks who love books--and book-lovers who love gadgets." Chris lives in Indianapolis and is active in the gamer community.


  1. I have tried the FREE Sherlock Holmes edition. Overall it is a very intriguing idea. At first I found myself getting a little distracted by the expectation of what the soundtrack was doing. However by the end it had became a part of the story. I would guess this would be the average first time users experience. Perhaps not for everyone, but for those who already listen to music when reading …. PERFECT!

  2. That was my reaction too, Chris — Having a noisy crowd cheer lustily while I’m quietly reading about some battle is something I’d want a mute button for. It’s as if they’re readying us for the death of imagination.

  3. I agree with you and I love Andrys’ comment about the “deat of imagination”. This sounds like gimmick with a very limited audience. I sometimes enjoy reading with background music–of my own choice and mood–but sound effects? No thank you! We are a three Kindle family. I’m trying to imagine sitting at home reading a lovely, quiet book like The Distant Hours while trying to ignore the laughtrack on my husband’s Bossypants book and the screams coming from across the room from the soundtrack on my sister’s Stephen King book. There are two or three coffee shops I visit regularly, but when I want to just enjoy a little time with a book, I avoid the one that insists on playing jazz at a level that, while it does not inhibit conversation, is still invasive to a quiet afternoon reading…especially since they always play jazz SINGERS.

  4. The only book I wish had a soundtrack is an early Chris Grabenstein book that made reference to lots of Bruce Springsteen songs – having them available would have been nice. But otherwise, no thanks. In audiobooks, they’ve tried adding sound effects – gun shots, foot steps, creaking doors – and in general producers have found that that’s not what audiobook listeners want. What most people want in an audiobook is a good narrator, not the sound effects. I can’t think why ebooks would be any different.

  5. This would work very well as an optional feature, in ebooks where specific artists or songs/pieces are mentioned. I recently suggested this for the Spike Berenger Rock’n’Roll mystery ebooks, in which the music is such a big part of the story. I don’t think anybody will be forcing sound on you. E-readers have audio controls. 😉

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