The Hachette Book Group has teamed up with Seattle startup Novel Effect, which specializes in technology that pairs music with text, to launch a pilot program using titles from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The resulting app, called Novel Effect, was named one of five finalists in the SXSW Accelerator Competition.
The Novel Effect pilot program will launch on March 10 with four LBYR titles. Throughout the rest of the year, the publisher plans on adding more titles to the program.
The Accelerator competition is an annual event at the SXSW technology festival (held March 10–19 in Austin, Tex.) in which startups present their technologies to a panel of judges comprised of tech investors and experienced entrepreneurs in front of a live audience. Each year the competition begins with applications from more than 500 new ventures, of which 50 are selected (five each in 10 categories) by the judges for the competition at SXSW.
Over multiple rounds of presentations (all in front of live audiences), the competing startups are whittled down to a top 10 (one in each category) and a final winner will be chosen by the judges at the Super Accelerator competition Monday at 6 p.m.
Describing how the app works, Novel Effect CEO Matt Hammersley said users choose a book and then open the app to select "the companion audio." Then, he explained, "as you read aloud from your print book, theme music and sound effects sync to your words in real time."
The Novel Effect app can be installed on smartphones or tablets and allows users to read at any speed. Because the app relies on voice recognition technology, the reader can pause and the music will loop until the reader begins again.
The four initial titles in the pilot program are Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie, The Peace Book by Todd Parr, Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney and The Little Shop of Monsters by R.L. Stine, illustrated by Marc Brown.
Megan Tingley, executive v-p and publisher of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, said, it's magical to read a book aloud. This app, she went on, expands "the potential for drawing our young readers and their families further into an experience that will help foster a lifetime love of literature."