Friday, August 26, 2011

Booktrack: Soundtracks that match what you are reading.

This just in from Business Insider ... "like movies have soundtracks, now books can have soundtracks." ... "In the coming weeks and months, Booktrack will also create editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, The Three Musketeers, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet and more."

Read the full story:

Try it out here ... Download the iPad version of Sherlock Holmes
Unlike traditional audio books, Booktrack is a soundtrack that will match what you are reading, AS YOU READ (Note: no one is reading the story to you). You can now truly hear what it’s like to be back in Holmes time with the suspense of Dr. Watson helping Holmes solve a case, horse’s hooves beating against the pavement while the tension rises in the air, and when they sit before a fire you will hear the wood crinkling in the background as Holmes and Watson solve another mystery. The personalized sound effects and composition makes the story more powerful and immersive than it has ever been heard before!
View a trailer for Sherlock Holmes Speckled Band Booktrack:


So basically, it enhances your reading experience, by providing sound effects, and a "score" as you would be hearing if you were watching the movie instead of reading. Interesting idea, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Push Pop Press = no more ebooks

Today's article, "Why we'll never have innovative e-books" from Tim Carmody at WIRED (published on CNN Tech) reports that Facebook is acquiring Push Pop Press -- the e-publishing startup company that created Al Gore's iPad ebook "The Choice." Carmody is bummed and so am I. He writes,
We sorely need independent innovation in digital publishing. We need talented people who are willing to try things. Meanwhile, all of the money, attention and technological skill is marching in the opposite direction. 
Most big media companies with plenty of capital and deep technical talent see few if any reasons to innovate or invest in books.
I'm especially disappointed since co-creator Mike Matas, who spoke at a recent TED Talk, imagined building a tool for publishers (see my post on 5/5/11) to create similar interactive books. If books are to become electronic, we need to be sure that they are not just "digitized text" and will take full advantage of the power of personal learning, made possible by devices like the iPad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

EPUB3 -- a game changer?

Back in January 2011 O' reported that EPUB3 (the newest revision of the EPUB standard) was soon to be released, ( and offered predictions of the changes this could bring to digital publishing:
Bob Kasher: There are three key areas EPUB3 is focused around: language support, greater accessibility, and increased multimedia support. Language support will allow EPUB3 to save and search non-Roman scripts — such as Japanese, Chinese and Arabic — as font characters rather than JPEGs, as in current EPUB support. This will make a much broader range of literature available to current and future reading devices from base EPUB files. It will truly internationalize EPUB.
EPUB3 will also be better at integrating the current DAISY accessibility standards, to help make reading devices of greater usefulness to visually impaired readers.
EPUB3 will be much more adept at supporting multimedia capabilities for both HTML5-based devices and the coming generation of tablets supporting both Flash and HTML5. It is hoped that in doing so, EPUB3 will help develop an enhanced ebook standard that can be used across a variety of media and content.
Other developments include enhanced metadata support for discoverability, better facilitation support for touchscreen devices, and support for MathML, which we hope will open up greater opportunities for textbook publishers. EPUB3 will be a quantum leap forward in capabilities for future device support, but still backward compatible with current devices on the market.
O'Reilly followed up on this recently: and noted that EPUB3 could "yield enhanced books" that will work on a variety of devices. Up until now, the iPad has been the only device that supports embedded media files.

It keeps getting better and better!