Friday, August 20, 2010

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Ads in Ebooks

Link to August 19 Wall Street Journal article, "Get ready for ads in books".

Excerpt from 'subscriber content preview': With e-reader prices dropping like a stone and major tech players jumping into the book retail business, what room is left for publishers' profits? The surprising answer: ads. They're coming soon to a book near you.

To understand why this is inevitable, consider the past few years. The historically staid and technology-averse publishing ecosystem has been ripped apart and transformed

Here's an interesting comment on this topic.

If the authors of this story had ever actually read an older book, they would have had nothing to write about here.

Until recent times, ads were included in most books, mainly ads for other books (a natural choice) but also for magazines and other products. [RG's emphasis; see below.)

Libraries routinely removed ads from books that they re-bound, and often from magazines too -- a crime against history for which generations of librarians are now slow-cooking in hell.

But those ads were there when the books were published

I think this person means to say (compare bolded phrase above) "almost exclusively ads for other books by the same publisher".

Cases in point.  (Yes, I just rummaged through my collection of old paperbacks.)

1961 paperback edition of The Amboy Dukes by Irving Shulman, published by Bantam Books.

At the back of the book are two 'full-page' advertisements (reproduced above): one for Marilyn Monroe: An Uncensored Biography ("On sale wherever paperbacks are sold") and two titles from Robert Sheckley's Stephan Dane international crime novel series ("Buy them wherever paperbacks are sold").  All 3 titles are published by Bantam Books, of course.

Inside the back cover is an order form for a whole slew of Bantam titles.  ("BESTSELLERS OF THE YEAR!", the headline exclaims.)

1971 paperback edition of On the Road by Jack Kerouac, published by New American Library's Signet imprint.

Opposite the title page is a coupon to order "other Signet novel's you'll want to read", including The Dharma Bums, The Graduate, You Can't Go Home Again, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Two more coupons are at the back of the book:  "Other Signet titles you will enjoy" and "Signet non-fiction titles of special interest".

1978 paperback edition of The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll, published by Bantam Books.

At the back of the book, you'll find a "handy coupon for ordering" 13 paperback books, all published by Bantam Books.

There's another coupon on the following page for the Bantam Book catalog.  "Here's your up-to-the-minute listing of over 1,400 titles by your favorite authors."

Last, and certainly not least, as far as the author was concerned, is a promotion for Carroll's Catholic Boy, "on Rolling Stone records and tapes".

Retiring Guy doesn't think the Wall Street Journal article on ebooks ads is addressing publisher 'self-promotion'.

Maybe it will be something like this Toyota-ized Merriam-Webster webpage.

The authors certainly do have something to write about

And one more thing.

As for libraries routinely remov[ing] ads from books that they re-bound, and often from magazines too...

Say it isn't so!

Not familiar with this practice, Retiring Guy says, "Please step into my confessional."  Can anyone confirm?

No comments: