Books with ads

Many years ago, I puzzled over why books didn’t have ads (here and here). The two best explanations were (i) that ads needed to be refreshed and in books would become old and (ii) that they didn’t suit the medium. I still think the latter is most relevant but news today that Amazon is working on the former.

You know what my favorite part of Moby Dick was? The part where I realized I wanted a Klondike bar. That experience may be expedited in the future, courtesy of an Amazon patent for a technology which would dynamically insert ads into e-books. And get this: the ads would be context sensitive. “For instance, if a restaurant is described on page 12, [then the advertising page], either on page 11 or page 13, may include advertisements about restaurants, wine, food, etc., which are related to restaurants and dining.

So long as it is clear what is going on I guess there is no problem with all that. I can’t imagine the ads being effective but I certainly think it is legitimate to try.

4 thoughts on “Books with ads”

  1. The fact that books don’t run ads seems to be something particular to the twentieth century. Amongst my collection I have a few tomes from the 1890s  which have ads in them.
    It is more likely for an ad to appear in a non-fiction publication than a novel but ads there be, in abundance. I had at one stage an erudite British Gardener’s Companion which ran ads between each chapter and had around 30 pages of ads  in the back.
    So bring it on Amazon.


  2. Evidence for explanation (i):
    Books that must be refreshed periodically, like street directories, do have ads!


  3. Actually, if I remember correctly, the paperback version of Scaduto’s Dylan biography DID have ads in the middle. I think one of them was for Folger’s coffee but I might be misremembering it. I read it when I was eleven and I don’t think I’ve seen a copy since.


  4. Back in high school English we had to study different types of writing from classical tragedy (think: Shakespeare) to modern romance (think: Mills & Boon! And my recollection is that the romance types commonly had advertisements through them.
    Given there are a couple of other examples of advertising appearing in books above, I guess the question becomes:  under what conditions does advertising work in books? and which conditions (economic or institutional) have changed that might enable the expansion of advertising into categories where it hasn’t traditionally been a successful revenue generation mechanism (e.g. low costs of publication enabled via online production and consumption)?
    Or maybe it’s always been an effective strategy but there were institutional mechanism blocking it that we’re unaware of (e.g. regulations on TV ads)?



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: