With the release of the multimedia eBook version of Stephen Smokeís Cathedral of the Senses, the possibility of including a soundtrack inside a novel is now a reality. Book and music publishers can now creatively repurpose existing assets at a fraction of the cost of creating new ones, while providing opportunities for tapping into fresh revenue streams.

For years authors and songwriters have dreamed of a day when music could be added as soundtracks for books. That day has now arrived and there are already further applications on the horizon that make use of the concept. Nobody believes that the prolific growth of ebooks – they’re now outselling paperbacks and hardcovers on – is going to save the record industry by itself.

But an exciting new angle may afford songwriters, music publishers and recording artists some unprecedented opportunities to repurpose and distribute their music to a new generation of consumers.Many authors are also songwriters, and vice versa. In fact, many of the inquiries we receive are from those author/songwriters. Stephen Smoke is one of many authors who have written books with companion soundtracks in mind, myself included. But until recently the technology just wasn’t there to make these projects truly self-contained, integrated reading/listening experiences. Cathedral of the Senses is the first novel with a self-contained music soundtrack. The multimedia ebook edition enables readers to listen to passages of music written specifically for the book by just tapping the screen, with links offered for downloading complete tracks. Now that technology has finally caught up, the possibilities of music and books being seamlessly and contextually integrated are limited only to oneís imagination.

Here are a few multimedia enhanced versions of existing products that we believe will inevitably get the full multimedia treatment:

* Band biographies: Many bands already have published biographies, complete with stunning pictorials that capture historic moments. Doesn’t it sound appealing to drop archive footage and recordings into those biographies in order to create rich multimedia experiences for loyal fans? Without creating any new content those dusty archives suddenly have greater purpose and value.

* “The Making Of”: Every album has a story behind it. This is a great application for fans that just can’t get enough information. For example, as far as I’m concerned anything new about the Beatles is worth knowing.

* Collaborations with book authors: Imagine Eckhart Tolle teaming up with Roger Waters. This might not be your ideal partnership, but you can imagine the many possibilities!

* Musical equipment companies: Wouldn’t those newsletters from your favorite suppliers be more exciting to open and browse if they not only showed you all their new cool stuff, but included videos and audio samples embedded inside promotions that provided demos and showed you how to install and configure those products? As a musician, singer/songwriter myself, I can’t tell you how many times I almost bought something but thought again because I wasn’t sure how I would make it work and how long it would take to get up and running. This application would not only significantly increase sales of sophisticated and complex musical gear, but also boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Multimedia ebooks that are able to integrate and complement the written word with music and video will reinvigorate the senses, breathe new life into customer experiences and create happier consumers and businesses.

Early adopters will be hoping theyíll make a bigger splash than those who follow. As the bandwagon fills up rapidly, the opportunity to seize the element of surprise is already starting to disappear. That being said, if the bottom line is that multimedia ebooks are here to stay, then book and music publishers need to start thinking about when they will adopt the technology, not if. Get in early and be the one everybody is talking about. Delay today and tomorrow’s buzz is unlikely to be about you.

Editor’s note: John David Balla is the founder of Cathedral Rock Publishing. PB


  1. Very cool. I have a friend who used to be in a “famous for a minute” band and he still plays. I’m a writer and have published several things, and have always wanted to write a book. Your article really resonates with me. This is really an eye-opening idea.

  2. Drat, the blog ate my code even though I wrapped it in code tags. I’ll try pre format tags. – SongTitle by SongArtist + SongTitle by SongArtist Hope that works. If not, just look up how to create a hyperlink.

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