The Bookseller: September 21, 2011
Digital focus: sounds or silence?
Paul Cameron admits that the official launch of Booktrack—a company that is for the moment heavily linked to the Apple ecosystem—might have benefited from a bit better timing. "We launched about 12 hours before Steve Jobs resigned," he says with a laugh. "We were lucky; we did get a lot of press. But had it been 24 hours later I think we might not have gotten any attention."
Cameron cannot be faulted for being overshadowed by Jobs' surprise resignation, which caught most of the tech world flat-footed. Yet Booktrack—with its elevator pitch of "soundtrack for e-books"—has managed to capture the attention of other Jobs-level Silicon Valley movers and shakers. Peter Thiel, who founded PayPal before selling it to eBay for $1.5bn in 2002, is the lead investor, while Facebook director for global creative solutions Mark D'Arcy is a board member and investor.
Booktrack currently has six apps on the Apple Store, five free classic titles including a Sherlock Holmes collection and Hansel and Gretel, plus one paid-for app, Pittacus Lore's The Power of Six (Michael Joseph).
The idea is simply that the apps provide, like a film, background ambient sounds, sound effects and music as you go through the narrative, with the bespoke software that synchs the sound to the user's reading speed. In the opening of The Power of Six, for example, which takes place on a beach, there is the sound of the sea, the wind whistling and moody music.