E-Book Ads: The Answer to Publishing’s Woes?


Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

With e-books (and the accompanying e-reader) gaining popularity with consumers and cache within the publishing industry, it’s only logical that marketers are looking to test out ads in the new platform.

One e-bookstore, Wowio, has taken a cross-promotional approach by collaborating with Fandango to plug the new Jack Black movie “Gulliver’s Travels.” Shoppers who buy a ticket to the film via Fandango are automatically given a free copy of the Jonathan Swift classic e-book. Other Wowio books contain up to three ads within the actual text, mainly on the introduction and closing pages.

Wowio CEO Brian Altounian hopes consumers will be receptive to the ads: “It is not the kind of thing where you are reading and a video pops up on the screen. If advertising gives access to content that is free or heavily subsidized, then most readers will accept it,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Book-lovers can and will complain about classic literature “selling out,” but ads in books may be inevitable – authors, editors, and publishers need to make money, and the traditional publishing model simply isn’t cutting it. Other e-reading sites like Scribd, a self-publishing site, are already tailoring ads. Scribd allows its members to easily publish works they’ve written, and converts the books to an e-reader format. The site reaches over 60 million people per month — and now it’s creating ads based on what users have read in the past.

We already see ads on just about every page in magazines, and we can stand watching up to fifteen minutes of them before seeing a film, so this venture isn’t really all that different – in fact, it seems far more personalized than the average ad. And keeping reader interests in mind could just be the lost city of Atlantis for publishers and authors: according to Forrester Research, e-book sales will triple from a little under $1 billion in 2010 to over $2.8 billion by 2015.