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April 18, 2011


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Paul Foth

There are aesthetic considerations, too, aren't there? Would putting ads in an eBook be analogous to putting a logo on a painting, or having an orchestra play a jingle at the end of a piece of music? I imagine it would depend on the degree to which a given book is considered a piece of art, but who makes that call?

Joe Wikert

That's absolutely true, Paul. But let's also remember it will be in Amazon's best interest to maintain a great user experience. If they go too far there won't be many/any paying customers, no matter how low the price (even free). Then again, 10 years ago I don't think many people would have said they'd use a free email service loaded with ads and yet that's exactly what Gmail has become.

Tom Ortega

Joe, when's the last time you went to the movies? I'm trying to remember the IMAX movie friends and I saw in Indy (after the conference where you and I met), but only remember the movie, plus I think my friends and I were late. Here in Arizona though, I'm coming to *despise* movie theaters AND movie companies because I don't know who to blame. However, all I know is that I'm sick of tired of paying money (good money!) to go to a movie theater to see a movie and instead, get forced to watch commercials before the movie begins. I'm not talking about the silly stuff they play when the lights are on. Heck, I'm not even talking about the previews for upcoming flicks. I'm talking about the full on commercials they play after it goes dark and you think the movie is starting.

I too saw the special Kindle announcement and wasn't as jazzed as you, sadly. Ads are not the savior of the business world. Tivo has proved it on TV, iPods have proved it for radio, and eReaders have proved it for print. People don't really like ads. Ads are not preferred when a consumer is consuming, but rather only when they're engaging. Let's take your example above: Google. They make a butt load of cash on search/gmail ads because people are actively doing something. Therefore, since they're engaging, they are in the mindset for ads. When people are consuming though, the last thing they want is a friggin' ad. Yeah, some may say, "I don't mind them." but no one will say, "Oh yeah, I love 'em."

I'm with you and John Wilker on the price point though. If it was $50 or free, then maybe I could see the point for this. However, look at NetZero. Eventually, the price comes down so low that the ad-supported discount model becomes moot.

I was talking to John the other day about his latest endeavor into ePublishing. I said one thing to him, "Don't make it ad supported." I can't stand gizmodo, engadget, tech crunch, etc because of the barrage of ads. Heck, Apple built a special tool into Safari to pull the actual content so the viewer can read the article in peace. Please, please, don't make us have to build a similar feature into eReaders.

Let's hope publishers and eBook reader makers don't cop out and try to fully embrace the ads model. Instead, make a better business case and make money that way.

Joe Wikert

Tom, I guess I'm more laid back about the theater experience than most people. I don't go to the movies that often but I don't have a problem with the ads. I also figure if they don't show ads the ticket prices will be even higher. I'd rather pay a bit less for the ticket and watch the ads.

Relevance is a key factor here though. The more relevant an ad is for me the less I'm bothered by it. There's no easy way to have high relevance across an entire movie audience but Google has proven it can be done at the content level with Gmail. I don't look very often at the ads next to my Gmail message but every so often I think, "yep, they're looking over my shoulder and *that* one actually looks kind of interesting...let me click over to it." If it can be done in email I'm sure relevant ads can be placed in ebooks.

Francis Hamit

My question is whether or not I get a piece of the action if they put those ads on my books? I've come around to to Amazon Kindle because of the 70% cut of the gross in the USA and the UK, and, starting this week, Germany, although I wonder if that latter one is going to hurt my foreign language rights sales since most Germans speak and read English as well. The cut drops to 35% in the 100 other nations where Kindle files are sold now. That's still enough to motivate me to pay for professional formatting and cover art and to switch my publishing schedules so that the Kindle comes first (and Nook second since I get a epub file anyway from my contractor) and to use POD for the print segment from now on.

If people are willing to put up with ads to get a cheaper reader, I have no objection even if I don't want that myself. (I'm a dinosaur that prefers to read books that are actually books; you remember, printed on paper, with a binding?) However, if Amazon is developing another revenue stream here off of my copyrighted material, they are obligated to share the bounty or to let me opt out.

Nothing personal, Amazon; just business. Show me the money.

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