Although enhanced e-books and apps with sound and video have been poorly received by book consumers, Neoglyphic Entertainment, an entertainment technology developer, has created a platform that makes use of data science, gaming technology, machine learning and crowdbased focus groups to create new experiences around traditional storytelling. The company has plans to offer its multimedia platform as a for-pay service to other publishers to create multimedia e-books from their own publishing lists.

Founded in 2014 in California by CEO Dane Glasgow, COO David Ramadge, chief creative officer Christopher Chamberlain, and chief storyteller Aaron Safronoff, Neoglyphic is also a publisher of original content. The company specializes in “visual and descriptive prose works that can be enhanced visually,” said Glasgow. Digital reading is convenient, Glasgow said, but Neoglyphic is focused on “how can we transform a novel and enhance the reading experience of prose using motion graphics and a musical score."

In May Neoglyphic published Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall, an illustrated middle grade fantasy series by Safronoff. The series was released in hardcover, trade paperback and a Kindle edition, and follows an elf-like civilization facing an environmental crisis.

Neoglyphic has just released an enhanced e-book app for Sunborn Rising featuring a musical score that can sync to the user's reading pace. Eventually Neoglyphic will launch a companion VR, or a 3D virtual reality experience, as well as a mobile game, that will bring the text story to life. (An early form of the Sunborn Rising VR, viewable on an Oculus Rift headset, was available at the recent BEA in Chicago.)

The first volume in the series, Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall, will be released as a custom e-book app this week. The app will feature six hours of original music that synchronizes the emotional ranges of the score to the proper sequences in the novel. The e-book features full color illustrations that include animation, as well as interactive games and quizzes embedded in the text.

To attract consumers to the new format, the e-book volume of Sunborn Rising, priced at $2.99, grants free access to the first 10 chapters of the 35-chapter novel. Those who've purchased the print novel can unlock the enhanced digital edition by answering a series of questions. Neoglyphic is also planning a promotion during late August giving away the Kindle edition of Sunborn Rising which, once downloaded, will also allow consumers to unlock the enhanced e-book edition for free.

“We’re small and we’re trying to get the book out to readers and to publishers to let them know what we’re doing,” Glasglow said. The costs for a publisher to use the Neoglyphic platform varies based on the complexity and length of the works being enhanced. “We have to work with the publishers to use it at first but they should be able to use it on their own eventually,” he said, noting that publishers should reach out to the company to get more information.

Although multimedia e-books have found some traction in the children’s market, enhanced e-books and apps have had problems in the broader marketplace. Ramadge said Neoglyphic has been using focus groups to test the features. “We’re augmenting the reading experience. The music is subtle and was designed to be heard in conjunction with reading; the art work is unique and our testing shows that it works and is exciting to readers.” Ramadge said consumer testing has been successful with “younger readers but we're testing in other genres on mature content and seeing similar effects.”

Glasgow calls the Sunborn Rising e-book, “a new type of reading experience. We’re building technology so other publishes can buy in and use it as platform.” The company, he said, is out to “build a new and better form of storytelling.”