APAC Forum 2015 highlight: Booktrack – reading for the multimedia age
A desire to encourage people to read led Paul Cameron to create Booktrack – a soundtrack for e-books.
Mr Cameron, a former officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, informed attendees at the APAC Forum 2015 InSight talks recently that poor reading habits are widespread.
A United States study showed 33 per cent of high school graduates and 42 per cent of college graduates never read another book in their lifetime after graduating. In the UK, children are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, and in New Zealand, 12 to 25-year-olds spend an average of 10 minutes a day reading but 140 minutes a day watching television.
Booktrack, a synchronised, movie-style sound track for an e-book is a way to improve the reading experience with music and ambient sound, and therefore create more readers, he explains.
The tool is programmed to change tempo according to the reader’s speed and is designed to complement and enhance what is contained in the text, he says.
Booktrack is now used by 12,000 teachers in 12,000 classrooms around the world, Mr Cameron says.
It was recently voted by the Journal of the American Association of School Libraries as one of the top ten learning sites in the world, and is available for books in 30 different languages. It is backed by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Weta Digital.
Early studies, including one conducted in Auckland, have shown reading with a synchronised soundtrack can increase comprehension by 17 per cent.
Mr Cameron, who is Booktrack’s chief executive, says an early criticism of the initiative in a tech trade journal was hurtful. However, he noted that similar criticisms were made when sound was added to early film and encouraged others with innovative ideas to rise above detractors.