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.