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.
I’m not giving Rupert Murdoch any more money, so I’m not paying to see the rest of the article; but I’ve a good idea what it may be talking about, and the concept is enough for a good debate.
Publishers have for decades advertised other novels in the backs of books. If you pick up any book, there is a good chance that the publisher has given a blurb for other works by that particular author, or a plug to visit their own website to see more. Even in some SFF novels, there have been ad swaps (I presume they’re swaps) with genre magazines. Also, it’s been a recent phenomenon for product placement within the text itself.
But what about advertising other items in the backs of books? If advertising is kept relevant, as it tends to be on television, we might find all sorts of clichés popping up: chick lit with dodgy wine advertised in the back. Political thrillers with MANLY razor blades.
Of course, the thing to bear in mind is – just how many novels the average author sells. Here’s a clue: not many. Not many companies will want spend money advertising their product in a book that sells only a couple of thousand copies. The genre of literary fiction doesn’t stand a chance. This sort of thing can only really be of use for the very commercial end of the publishing spectrum.
Would any of this interrupt the reader experience? I’m not so sure anyone cares to be honest. Unless ads are slap bang in the middle – right in between chapters, perhaps – then I doubt it will bother people, though with e-books I can see that being something that will happen. In my grouchier moments, I’d say good on publishers if they do consider this – with supermarkets and online retailers squeezing every last penny out of them, every little helps them stay in business; although I can’t see this being a huge revenue generator for the most part.