Research indicates that music has a unique and powerful ability to affect how listeners react to a story (Schaefer, 1998). Publishing houses are increasingly incorporating music and other multimedia effects into their products, with companies such as Booktrack now including novel-length soundtracks with e-books. The present study aimed to empirically investigate the relationship between music and text by examining whether readers' enjoyment of and distraction from a fiction e-book is affected by the inclusion of music or sound effects. One hundred and twenty undergraduate students at Brigham Young University completed an e-book reading task (either accompanied by sound effects, music, or nothing at all) and completed a post-task survey that measured their enjoyment of and distraction from the task. It was found that multimedia-enhanced e-books were significantly more enjoyable (M = 4.555) than e-books alone (M = 4.035). Both sound effects and music (Ms = 4.512 and 4.594, respectively) led to higher levels of enjoyment than the control condition (M = 4.035), although later analyses indicated this effect was primarily found in females. Only the multimedia e-books incorporating sound effects significantly lowered distraction levels compared with the control (Ms = 1.698 and 3.621, respectively). The amount of time a participant spent engaged in multimedia behaviors (e.g., watching television, playing video games) did not consistently affect the relationships investigated. It was concluded that music and sound effects may be an enjoyable and interesting feature of e-books without detracting from the story. In some cases, the addition of multimedia made e-books as enjoyable for those who typically did not enjoy fiction as it was for those who enjoy fiction. It is recommended that publishers continue investigating this relationship, as multimedia e-books may open access to a new marketable audience for publishers.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





e-books, publishing, multimedia, music, sound effects, reading, fiction



Included in

Linguistics Commons