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Booktrack: Sound effects, mood music for e-books

Booktrack brings new meaning to the term "audio book." There is no voice reading the text to you, but the iOS app adds ambient sounds, soundtrack music, and sound effects that are triggered by events in the text.

Booktrack app
This Holmes story introduces Booktrack's soundtrack and special-effects e-book app. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Books just kind of lay around, requiring your imagination to do all of the hard work. E-books add a little bit of gadget-y pizzazz to the process of reading. Or you can go completely nuts with Booktrack, an iOS app that adds soundtracks and sound effects to your reading material.

The first entry in a planned series of sound-enhanced books is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." The most important point to note is that these are not audio books in the usual sense. There's no Hollywood star reading the text to you.

I'm a Holmes nut. My office is decorated like 221B Baker Street. I've read this story more times than I can remember. I was a little skeptical about what the Booktrack reading experience would be like.

The app keeps up with you as you read. You can train it to match your reading speed. Mood music plays in the background. A door creaks open. Footsteps cross the floor. A fire crackles. The sound effects are timed to events in the text.

It turns out that Booktrack is a fun way to read. The music adds atmosphere and suspense. The sound effects are entertaining. Some people may find the added audio distracting, but for me, it flowed right along with the story.

"The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is free. Upcoming titles include more Holmes stories, "Jane Eyre," "Romeo and Juliet," and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Booktrack volume controls
Booktrack lets you adjust the volume of the music, ambient sounds, and special effects. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET