This Week in Publishing: ConnectED, Booktrack, and ‘Watchman’

by Allison Bucknell

ConnectED Expands Efforts with Open eBooks App

Early this week, the development of an app called “Open eBooks” was announced in The Guardian, highlighting the continued efforts of ConnectEd, a national digital learning initiative that was announced earlier this spring, the aim of which is to create a free digital book collection for students aged 4-18.

According to the Guardian article, “Publishers have donated $250m worth of popular and award-winning titles, which will be made available for a three-year period on a specially designed app, produced with the New York Public Library. Public domain titles, spruced up with new art and typography, will be accessible for students from all backgrounds.”

The article admits that drawing teenagers to the app might be difficult, but that the quest to create a generation of “lifelong readers” is an important goal for the good of our communities and society-at-large. In order for this kind of initiative to work, though, community involvement is a must so that these resources can reach those who need them the most.

Soundtracks For Your Books

It’s not uncommon to hear people wish that they had a soundtrack for their life. What if you could have a soundtrack for your reading? Some people can only read to silence, but Booktrack is looking to change the landscape–or bookscape– for those who enjoy music in the background.

Total funding for the New Zealand-based startup amounts to $10 million as of yesterday. The company began four years ago when they offered two tracks on the app store. Today, they boast a library of 15,000 titles.

TechCrunch has this to say about what a booktrack is:

“Each booktrack—think movie soundtrack for your book—consists of music, ambient audio and sound effects that automatically sync with your reading pace as you tap through the pages of an e-book.”

Whether this kind of technology is going to stick around remains to be seen. This creative approach to engaging the new ways readers read may be a step onto a limb, but clearly there’s enough interest—with its 2.5 million user-base—to continue to build the capabilities of this startup.

‘Watchman’ Releases, Surges to the Top

The publication of Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ has been anticipated since news first broke about its discovery. This week, that anticipation flooded the market: the first week’s sales numbers were comparable to E.L. James’ ‘Grey’.

The excitement over Lee’s second novel is not undeserved, though its hype has shifted tone, constituting in-depth discussion over the true principles of Atticus Finch as well as Lee’s original intent for her story.

Be sure to catch articles like this one, which takes time to evaluate ‘Mockingbird’ and its place as a beloved classic in light of ‘Watchman.’

Any publishing stories you think we should have covered? Mention them in the comments below and we’ll give you a shout-out next week! We mean it!

(Featured Image source: HarperCollins)

About Blog Editor

The Women’s National Book Association was founded in 1917 by female booksellers who weren’t allowed in the men’s organizations. Nearly 100 years later, the WNBA is still supporting women in the book industry through literary events, networking, literacy projects, workshops, open mic nights, book clubs, and many other entertaining programs throughout the season!

One Comment

  1. Thanks so much for the information-packed posts that have been coming through recently. Especially on ConnectEd–an interesting initiative that I hadn’t heard about.

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