Booktrack, a startup that enhances ebooks by means of sound effects, music and ambient sound, raised a $3 million funding round from Sparkbox Venture with participation of existing investors Valar Ventures and Park Road Associates Ltd.
This funding round will be used for Booktrack’s newly created Booktrack Classroom that aims at the education market. Booktrack had previously raised $2 million in venture funding from a group of investors including Peter Thiel.
Booktrack’s patented technology claims to be adaptive. Depending on how fast somebody reads a text the music, sound effects and ambient sound, which are all recorded separately, will match the reader’s speed.
Founded in 2010 in New Zealand Booktrack has seen some success, specifically for Booktrack Studio which launched in 2013, and the startup says some 300,000 people have used to create 3,600 Booktrack in 30 languages. The startup is now headquartered in San Francisco.
With Booktrack Classroom the startup targets teachers and students. On the one hand teachers can create reading experiences for the class, on the other students can create their own ebook projects with the software. The aim is to improve both reading and writing skills by enabling students to read, create and share audio-enhanced ebooks for free.
Tales2Go, another edtech startup that uses audio to improve literacy skills recently raised $750k from NewSchools Venture Fund and Maryland Venture Fund.
Two studies, one in New York, one in Auckland, show that students who used Booktrack enhanced ebooks spent 30% more time reading and their comprehension got up by 17%.
Though I don’t doubt the results of the two small studies mentioned, I ask myself the old question of causation and correlation. I’ve just finished reading an interesting article citing new research and findings when it comes to reading online compared to reading a book offline.
In a nutshell, researchers know that the human brain was not designed for reading. However, it now often has to execute this task, therefore it is constantly adapting. As we tend to read a lot online, we have increasingly trained our brains to quickly identify key factors or terms in a text that we are looking for. And our brains adapted to this new form of reading.
Researchers see this as a main problem when people now want to read long texts or entire books offline. As our brains have basically replaced the old style of reading through the new one, people increasingly struggle to concentrate and read a text in detail.
Certainly, these studies were all carried out independent from one another and from what Booktrack looked at in their studies. That said, I find it very interesting to imagine how young readers (digital natives) might struggle more than older readers as growing up they have most likely been exposed to more digital content than real books.
Anyhow, researchers suggest to learn and maintain both forms of reading. We have to train ourselves in serious reading and in reading for gist.
- Booktrack Raises $3M To Add Soundtracks To E-Books, Launches Classroom Version | TechCrunch
- Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say | Washington Post
- HEDLINE: Tales2Go raises $750k Seed Round | EDUKWEST