Friday, 2 September 2011

Music, sound effects and all that Jazz in Books

This morning I was watching BBC and they introduced the concept of Booktrack, a soundtrack to your ebook. I was at first astonished, then disgusted, then numbed, and then resigned.
Ok, Ok, Iet me tell you something. I'm a very musical person. I've been singing before I could speak and even though I'm no Annie Lennox I think I know how to pull a note straight. Unfortunately I have no other musical abilities, I know the basics of guitar and bass guitar, but that's about it. This is quite frustrating, since sometimes my head comes out with such amazing songs and riffs, that if I could able to put them into real music, I'd be the best musician on the planet...and I'm being honest.
All this to say that when I read I think about people voices and faces. I think about how they dress and they move, and yes, I think about sounds and music too.
I don't know if this happens because I'm so into music, or if also other people do the same. The point is that, as I've previously mentioned, when I'm reading I zoom out of reality. It doesn't matter if I'm in a bus full of people or at home with people watching TV, if the book is good I just don't notice anything or anybody. Why, then, would I want something that distracts me? I know it's meant to follow exactly how you read and go with the story, but I think it's too much, I got movies for that.

So let's talk about Booktrack for a minute. 
Booktrack represents a new chapter in the evolution of storytelling, and an industry "first" in publishing, by creating synchronized soundtracks for e-books that dramatically boost the reader's imagination and engagement. The company's proprietary technology combines music, sound effects and ambient sound, automatically paced to an individual's reading speed. Funded by investors including, Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal, and member of Facebook's board of directors -- and in partnership with the largest publishing houses, best-selling authors, and award-winning composers and musicians -- Booktrack is already well on its way to creating a new genre of entertainment.
Ok, now let me just  share some thoughts on all this:

  • The synchronized soundtrack sounds amazing, but that's not bound to be perfect and accurate at all times. Basically, for what I understood, you'll need to read a sample and the computer will register your average reading speed. So far so good. What about when you receive a text and you stop reading to check it? Will the music and effects go on? How does the computer know when to stop? Probably you have to push a button or something, which is pretty annoying. But even more annoying is when you're not really focused on the book, or the text makes you think about other things, about landscapes, poems you had forgotten, memories...and you're so lost into it you need to re-read the same line 100 times (it happens to me, a lot!)! How does the computer know what you're doing in your mind!? How does the computer know how slow or how fast you'll read a certain book? Because my speed depends on the author, on the story, on the literary style. 
  • 'Dramatic boost to the reader's imagination': I appreciate how some sea noises could be impressive during the reading of Moby Dick, but if you can't imagine those sounds in your mind without the help of a reading device, then you're sad. Really sad.
  • When somebody on BBC Breakfast claimed that sometimes the noises and sounds were too literal (i.e. while reading Marching Powder aka cocaine, the noise of marching feet came up), and therefore not 100% reliable, the company said that they work closely with authors so that the soundtrack for each book will be just right. How many books do you think will then be developed in this way? It would take a massive amount of time, money and resources in order to 'translate' each book, or even a year's worth of books into booktracks. So I don't think it'll be very reliable, and that sounds will be add automatically by some computer.
I appreciate the fact that this has been thought for commuters, who already listen to their music while reading in order to isolate themselves from the crowd. I personally couldn't, I would get so distracted by the music that I would start singing and lose the plot. Music is the only thing that distracts me! But I see how this idea could work for them. 
I also think it would be great if the sounds and noises were added to a normal audio book, so you'd get to listen to the reader's soothing voice, wherever you are, and immerse yourself into the story, literally. I think that would be great and would definitely work with kids...but then again, that's not really a book, is it?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Celebs Publicity Pt.2

Another example of very good publicity!
Gosh I love find these things around. Kim Kardashian tweeted to her 9,485,192 followers about the book 'Embraced By The Light' by Bettie Eadie. 

No better publicity, right?