Posted by: kimberlysullivan | December 6, 2013

Oh, groan. Sound effects for books?

Music notesCall me a Luddite, but I side with the technology-shy on this one, which is probably rather obvious by the fact that I don’t even own an e-reader.

The fantastic Nathan Bransford recently had a blog post on this topic, saying it’s only a matter of time until e-books come with sound effects, and asking the readers of his excellent site to chime in (pun lame, but intended).

For me, reading has always been a relaxing escape – a way to take a break from my hectic, everyday life. I love to lose myself in the pages of a book, to slip fully into the minds of characters I’m reading about, to live in the worlds they inhabit, and hear the sounds they hear.

BUT, I want to do this in my own mind. The most prompting I’ll accept is a great cover photo or cover design, but otherwise, I love to imagine scenes myself. I don’t need annoying interruptions (I have my kids for that). I don’t want to break the flow of my reading to listen to music or special effects, or hear a character interview.

It seems in modern life we have too few of these moments of sustained, quiet concentration, and I’m not willing to let yet another go.

What about you, readers? Will you join me hiding in the library to avoid such a development? Or do you think it could enhance the overall reading experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I too don’t like any interruptions while reading… in fact when I was in boarding school, study time was my favorite time for reading novels…since nobody was allowed to talk I could delve deep in the story… I only had to be careful of my teacher, since reading novels during study hours was prohibited!

  2. I have found that I can’t read OR write with any music playing. Unlike movies, which are purely visual, reading (like writing) requires certain workings of the brain to give the full effect. Why “break the spell” with sound effects when the imagination is working so hard to create a rich world on its own?

  3. I agree with you both. There was an excellent article – I believe in ‘The Atlantic’- a few years ago,’Is Google Making Us Stupid?’ It talked about the difference in reading on the internet (where we interrupt our reading to click into this link, look at little video that pops up, etc.), with the sustained, longer-term concentration required to read a novel or a scientific book. I love the internet, too, but I think it’s worth making an effort to maintain some of the more traditional reading habits, and to allow ourselves to slip into that state of full concentration when we read a good book. Personally, sound effects and hyperlinks or videos would kill that for me.

  4. I don’t think I’d like having sound effects or music added to my reading (although I have used such ebooks with my 8 year old daughter and she adores them – they feel more like book-cartoons to me). I have no issue with ebook readers – incredibly handy for travel as otherwise I fill my luggage allowance with fiction.

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