Posted on 09/16/2015 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Readers of ebooks are accustomed to tapping on text for more information, but Margaret Ann Philbrick’s “A Minor: A Novel of Love, Music & Memory” does much more than define an unfamiliar word.

Touching bold text in this novel allows musical compositions referenced in the novel to play while you continue reading. Print readers aren’t left out; URLs listed in the table of contents will send them to online recordings of the music.

These aren’t clever afterthoughts, though. From the drafting phase until the book’s completion, Philbrick always intended to have the reader listen to music as the tale of a teen piano prodigy’s ill-fated love for his teacher unfolded.

Philbrick recently answered a few questions about this unique creative process for The Fussy Librarian.

SADYE: What extra steps went into embedding the soundtrack?

MARGARET: The coordination process was between my lawyer (my husband) who worked through all the licensing, the publisher who took the vision to the distributor Ingram, who developed the technology with the various ebook retailers.

Ibooks took the longest because they have so many formats books can be accessed by, but eventually they all got it done.

SADYE: What has been the response to the embedding?

MARGARET: The ebook is consistently outselling the print book, and the reviews demonstrate that readers LOVE this integrated reading experience.

SADYE: Are there any books that you’d like to see follow the lead of “A Minor”?

MARGARET: Oh yes, so many books I think could be re-released with music for extra mileage. I just finished reading my neighbor’s novel — “Sing for Me” by Karen Halvorsen Schreck  — which would be beautiful with the jazz music embedded.

Many YA books would also bring new readers with the addition of music, much like a movie evokes more emotion with a soundtrack.

SADYE: Are you aware of many other novels like yours?  

MARGARET: I’m not aware of any others — which is exciting to have created such a unique product — but I wish there were others.

SADYE: How fast do you think works like “A Minor” (with A/V extras) will become the norm for ebooks?

MARGARET: I think this idea will catch on, but it takes time. The biggest challenge is in licensing the music. It is very difficult and complicated to work through the license process.

In “A Minor,” many of the works were public domain because they are classical in nature and over 100 years old so no fee is involved. Those that were not, we paid artists to arrange and record for us.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness” is a common hymn which is not public domain so HOPE Publishing receives a royalty from our book sales and our friends the McMakens created their own stunning arrangement of this piece.

Having music, especially original music, makes the reader’s connection to the storyline and the characters richer and deeper. I hope we see more books take on this idea.

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To learn more about Margaret and her works, and to purchase “A Minor,” visit her website.

Categories: Author Interview

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