E-book world revisited

Posted by Justin on 7 September, 2011

Level – Pre-intermediate and above

E-books with soundtracks hit the UK: will this latest multimedia development kill the joy of reading?

The original e-lesson e-book world came out in November 2009. One of the blog entries in the lesson reads: ‘The Kindle is too expensive to be anything more than a niche product for business travellers!’ Well, a lot has happened since then. For one thing, in February this year, e-books became the single bestselling ‘category’ in American publishing for the first time, overtaking the sale of paperbacks. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has said that books for the Kindle are now outselling print books.

At the end of last month, the first ‘enhanced e-book’ from a company called Booktrack was launched in the UK. This latest development seems logical enough: reading is enhanced by a synchronized soundtrack. As you read, you hear mood music, or sound effects like rain, thunderclaps or breaking glass, and (of course), screams.

Studies made by Booktrack indicate that the addition of sound can help readers to retain information better. Readers become immersed in the experience. The software recognises the speed of the reader, and (cleverly) paces the soundtrack with the text. Impressive.

Nevertheless, this latest development in the world of publishing is controversial. Many believe the writer is responsible for creating mood, just as they are responsible for creating images which live in the readers mind. Reading is not cinema.

This first generation of enhanced e-books is designed to work on tablet computers, such as the iPad, with a version for Android to follow.

I’m one of those people who will always love books. I also have a tablet pc and an e-book reader. In terms of the market, the sales of e-books will continue to rise, and I suppose they’ll co-exist alongside printed books, at least for the foreseeable future.

As for e-books with soundtracks, I think I’ll just go back to my paperback copy of One Day before (maybe) going to see it the cinema…..

Areas you may wish to explore with your business English students are:

  • Have you bought an e-book reader? Will you?
  • What do think about Booktrack? Does it enhance or kill the imagination?
  • Consider the world of publishing: make a prediction about e-Book readers and tablet PCs.

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