On Saturday I had opportunity to attend a sold out TEDx event here in Auckland. If you are unfamiliar with TED, it is a series of talks based on the notion that brilliant ideas are worth spreading. I’m a fan of TED and I love that I can experience brilliant ideas from brilliant minds and be inspired not only by creatives, but from many different industries.
One of Saturday’s speakers, Paul Cameron, CEO of BookTrack spoke about their innovative new product. But first, let me share some statistics.
It would only take a generation or two in this direction before reading for pleasure became a lost art.
Reading is pleasurable because it is engrossing. When I read a good book, I see the world through that book. I think about the characters when I’m not reading. Reading also shares deep dark feelings between author and reader. You don’t get a meaningful inner monologue when watching a movie. Reading presents ideas in ways that video alone cannot.
I’m a perpetual list maker and one of my new year’s resolutions was to read more books. I love reading but find it hard to find time to fit it in. With a rough notion to read 12 books this year, I’ve stumbled over the last 2 months on the same book. Still, I was surprised and saddened by the stats.
Booktrack aims to bridge that gap between reading and other modes of entertainment by submerging the reader in an audio track that plays sounds and emotive music based on your reading speed. It might seem unnatural and odd, but Cameron noted that when the moving picture (movies) first added audio, many thought it was unnatural and even annoying to have audio to moving picture. Nowdays, it is the norm and it is hard to imagine watching a movie with no audio. I imagine if eBooks go the way of BookTrack, it would only take a generation to get used to the idea before they couldn’t imagine reading without audio.
Part of me feels like BookTrack isn’t addressing the real problem. The problem isn’t the books, it’s the people. No longer do we have the patience to read a book, instead we need to be visually and audibly assaulted in order to be entertained. We no longer have the imagination to hold up to reading a book.
I’m an avid reader so those stats are truly frightening!!!
Me too. I feel like a bad person if I don’t finish a book a month.
I can’t believe those statistics! I’m a huge book fan and while I don’t read as much as I want to, I made a big effort this year to start reading more (I missed it!). The thing that has helped me the most is goodreads.com. I can now line up a whole load of books I want to read, and pre-order them from the library.
Hi Rhiannon, I registered to goodreads.com not long ago but have yet to utilise it properly. I think anything that gets people reading more is a good thing. I’ve got a few books lined up on my iPad, just need a whole lot of downtime to soak them up.
This TED Event sounds fab! Must look into it. Great post too
You’re absolutely right Genie, it’s really such a shame that people can’t find simple joy in a book. I love it. Recently I started buying books on my phone because I have my phone with me all the time, so that means I can read anytime I have a moment. I had intended on reading the books on the iPad, but when do I lug around that giant iPad…my phone is compact and handy.
I love my iPad but I don’t have a smartphone. I prefer the iPad size for snuggling up in a blanket with. Blanket time is reading time for me.
Totally madness that books are dying out. I’ve read three books in the last two weeks, I don’t know what I would do without them! I just bought myself two books last week too, and look forward to getting into them soon when I have a moment…
I can tell you read a lot of books Mel. Your writing is always so eloquent. I fear that without that with a general population that does not read, there will be no basis for good writing and without good writing comes ignorance and miscommunication.
Those are scary stats. Now that I think about it, I do not really read books. I read blogs.. and magazines.. and facebook? Haha!
I’m sorry, that’s not funny. This is a very serious problem.
Off you go Cass: http://i.chzbgr.com/completestore/2009/2/12/128789585702825033.jpg
Those are really scary statistics, but I have to say that I am not that surprised. Among my friends, I can say that most of them only read one book, maybe two, a year. A year.
I’m not talking about my academic friends, but those who work in the private sector. Still. It is such a shame that at the end of the day, they would rather watch something unmemorable on television than crack open a book.
Ugh yes. There’s so much unmemorable, mindless crap on TV that most of our generation would prefer to zone out to than to pick up a book. I’ve cut down my TV time by heaps this year. I watch 1 or 2 shows a week which is huge compared to just turning on the TV every night and hoping something was on (but staying even if nothing was on). I prefer to watch movies or make stuff.
Hey, just stumbled upon your blog! Thanks for the blog post and I’m glad you found my talk insightful. I understand where you are coming from regarding people not being able to read without Booktrack and that there is a problem with people not having the patience to read. However, we believe that this is change at work, just like when sound was added to silent films, and radio was surpassed by television. There’s still a place for radio in our lives, just like there will always be a place for traditional reading. The reason Booktrack can seem so startlingly at first, is because reading hasn’t changed in over 2,000 years. Industries and technologies are always changing and improving, whether rightly or wrongly, and we believe that Booktrack is the positive next step for reading. After all, people are already reading while listening to music – we’ve just created a relevant synchronised soundtrack that fits with the book you’re reading.
Thanks Booktrack for your comments! I really do hope your product will be able to bring reading back to the masses.