Saturday, August 8, 2015

Do you Listen to Audio while you Read?


Do you like to listen to music or audio while you read a book? One company that is hoping you do has just raised five million dollars to expand their catalog. Booktrack is based in New Zealand and has been in business since early 2012. The premise of the their business model is to provide an audio soundtrack to accompany the books you read.

Booktrack has a catalog of 15,000 titles and over 2.5 million users in the last four years have used their services. Their website and fleet of mobile apps monitor your individual reading pace and sync up the audio. Its one thing to imagine standing in Times Square in New York, and its another to hear the passing crowd, honking taxis and hucksters shilling gear to tourists.

Paul Cameron the founder of Booktrack said "Reading is the only mainstream entertainment medium without synchronous sound. You don't go home and watch TV with the sound all the way down."

Publishers seem to have come around to the way Booktrack handles the audio narrative to books. Book publishers can either create their own soundtracks, or pay Booktrack around $1,000 per novel to create the track for them. Currently 50 publishing companies including Harper Collins and Random House are using the platform to generate a new revenue stream from both old and new titles.

You can check our their website if you are interested in what Booktrack is doing, or download their apps for iOS or Android.

People Stop Reading Books in Russia


Moscow is considered to be the most well read city in Russia, but bookstores have been closing anyways. There are now 226 bookshops left to serve a population of 12 million, said Boris Kupriyanov, a publisher and co-founder of Falanster bookshop. In Paris, whose population is five times smaller, there are 700 bookshops, he added.

The number of bookstores are significantly declining in Russia primarily to high rent. In the Soviet era, bookshops were freed from paying rent and even received some subsidies to pay utilities bills. Rent is at record levels and the state taxes for bookshops is the same as liquor stores. This is compounded by a new law that just passed this July called the “trading fee”, a fixed quarterly payment that stores must pay to legally sell goods.

High rent is one thing, but the average Russian is simply not reading anymore. In 2014 more than half of Russians didn't read a single book, up from one-quarter in 2009, Sergei Stepashin, president of the Russian Book Union told news agency TASS this month.

Young people see books as pure entertainment, and in that category they cannot compete with modern gadgets, said Kupriyanov. Without measures by the state to stimulate interest in reading and promote books as a source of education, interest will continue to wane, he said.

With bookstores closing due to high rents and a lack of demand from your average reader, this is putting pressure on the publishing industry. Last year, the number of book and brochure titles published in Russia was the lowest in seven years, according to a report issued by the Federal Press and Mass Media Agency. With the number of titles falling, the size of print runs is also declining, and the total amount of printed material shrank by 10.4 percent last year compared to 2013, according to the report. More than half of books published in Russia now have a circulation of less than 1,000 copies.

In the US, thousands of published authors and self-publishers derive their primary income from writing books. In Russia there are currently 10-12 people in the whole country that can earn their living only by writing books, and there will be even fewer of them in the future.

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