Monday, September 16, 2013

Booktrack - I've amplified my story. What do you think of it?

The method and medium of storytelling has changed but the art of storytelling has not. Whether you enjoy movies, books, television, or live performances, a good story is always worth the investment in time.

Technology constantly changes the way in which stories are told and initially, people freak out. There are fantastic stories, the integrity of some in question, about an early showing of L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat by the Lumière Brothers. Hellmuth Karasek for the German magazine Der Spiegel wrote that the film "had a particularly lasting impact; yes, it caused fear, terror, even panic.” Urban legends describe people running for the exits in the belief they were standing in the path of a real train. Whether or not those accounts from 1895 are true, it does illustrate the way that storytelling can change. Fast forward almost 120 years and our modern 3D movies could be argued to have the same visceral effect.

Art that doesn’t evolve becomes obsolete. Silent reading is still at the core of enjoying a good book but we’ve tweaked that too. Audio books have become fairly common over the past few decades.

Enter Booktrack.com. “Booktrack is transforming reading the way sound transformed silent film.”


In full disclosure, I was one of the first authors invited to “score” a short story which you can see here. The Hunt is a 3000-word dystopian vampire tale that can be read in 15-20 minutes. Booktrack gives the author the ability to not only embed sounds, music, and ambient noises into their story, but to do so in synchronization with the text on the page. A“pinhead” moves through the text and sounds are triggered. The speed at which the pinhead moves is determined by the reader. This idea is not new but I believe the current iteration of Booktrack is the best. All you need is a Google Chrome browser and earbuds. For now, all of the titles are completely free and you don’t even have to create an account. They are currently working on a mobile version and the existing platform should work on any computer/laptop/tablet that has Google Chrome.

Recently, the CEO of Booktrack, Paul Cameron said, “At Booktrack we have been reinventing reading and now we are re-imagining writing too. It is authors like J. Thorn that understand the power of storytelling and the impact that music and ambience audio has to amplify stories.”

Nobody knows how technology will continue to shape our entertainment, but I find what Booktrack is doing right now to be really engaging. What do you think?

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