Advertising in Books / by kevin murray

We are surrounded by ads.  There are ads on your TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, automobiles, flyers, webpage, your cell phone…  Ads are just about everywhere.


Let's first discuss print media, in which when you pick up your local free newspaper or the national newspaper they are full of ads and in fact their greatest source of revenue comes from those very same ads.   Magazines that you subscribe to or buy off of the stand may be more than 50% ads.   But have you noticed that virtually all books that you buy or borrow are ad free except perhaps for a postcard posted in the middle of the book or a list of the publisher’s books listed at the end of the book that they hope you might be interested in perusing and then purchasing from. That's pretty much it, as you certainly won't see any advertising (except for the occasional movie or TV tie-in) on the front, the sides, or the back of the cover of the book or really nothing in-between.  Why is that?


To the point, when you are reading a newspaper or a magazine you have the option upon seeing an ad, to pay attention to it or to simply read the article(s) on that page and once finished, to move on to the next page.  For me, advertising in magazines and newspapers seldom bothers me and occasionally the ads serve their purpose as I read them and perhaps cut out a coupon.  Honestly though, I seldom find them to be a distraction or an irritant.  I mean, a lot of the time I really don't even notice them.


That's why I don't understand the book publishing business at all.  I mean, if magazines have a pretty good idea of their demographics, I would suspect a book publisher to have the same pretty good idea too.  That being the case, why not try to enhance your revenue by soliciting ads.  I just don't see this as being controversial whatsoever.  Unless the subject book is literally splashed with ads on every other page I don't believe the continuity of the books will be disturbed whatsoever.


Now let's take electronic media which may be the best starting point for advertisements in books because the logistics and cost are probably much lower and the testing of these theories are much easier/quicker to explore.  The Kindle Fire sells itself with ads and also without.  The difference in price is $15.  But what is the ad?  All the ad does is it shows up anytime you turn on or wakeup your kindle, to get rid of the ad is as simple as sliding your finger to unlock your kindle.  That isn't worth $15 to me and quite frankly I don't even know why there is any controversy as I don't mind the ad and secretly I hope for a special or enticement on some product that interests me.


So why doesn't Amazon or somebody else sell electronic books with or without ads.  No doubt, Amazon has some good personal information about you that would help to target their ads on behalf of advertisers and/or the book publisher will already have a pretty good idea of the target audience that the book appeals to.  All Amazon has to do is then offer you the book with or without ads and discount the book some appropriate % with ads.


Then, let the marketplace decide.