Ad-Supported Reading

We’ve talked a bit before about ads in eBooks and whether or not it’s a good idea. Personally, I come down on the side of it being a good option – but you have to have both a free, ad-supported version and a paid, pure version of an eBook in order to make it a palatable choice, I think.

Amazon has now come out with just that. You can now get a discounted WiFi Kindle if you’re swilling to accept ad-sponsored screensavers and an ad banner at the bottom of your home screen. So far, the ads don’t intrude into your reading experience, and you probably won’t see the home screen ones all that often, anyway – I tend to spend very little time on the home screen, myself.

What do you all think about this?

I would be tempted to try the ad-supported/paid split if I could figure out how to get the advertisers/sponsors to sign on to the venture. But that’s something that would require a much larger company than lil’ ol’ Candlemark & Gleam. A company like, oh, Amazon. But I do think that ad-supported products need to be really cheap – $25 off the price of a Kindle isn’t enough to convince me to go ad-supported. A $50 or $99 Kindle, though? Then we might be talkin’.

 

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  • Kel

    I hesitate to say that allowing ad supported content by option is okay… anyone else remember when you paid for cable because there were no ads? Now we both pay and are subjected to ads.

  • http://groovesinorbit.dreamwidth.org/ Patti

    I like how you typed ‘swilling’ instead of ‘willing’ in your post. That seems appropriate. I wouldn’t want to buy an ad-supported e-reader, even at a really great price. Ads just gross me out.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    Hah, this is what I get for letting myself type without looking (for
    some reason, WP blocks out the box when I’m trying to post, so I can’t
    see what I’m typing). I think I’ll leave that typo there for posterity now.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    That is an EXCELLENT point…slippery slope, to be sure.

  • https://profiles.google.com/rhoads.eric/about?hl=en S. Eric Rhoads (WordTipping)

    Ad supported books…that is tricky. In my opinion the critical issue would be ad placement. Any ad appearing inline with the text would be a deal breaker to me. But, a page at the start of the novel or even a splash screen ad when you start reading an eBook I could see as feasible. I personally would never buy an ad supported eBook but that is just my personal bias.

    I think the larger problem would be pricing. People are too used to ad supported content being free. Whether it be Hulu, public TV, Pandora or anything else. How would you price the books? I think you would run the risk of making books free. In a digital landscape…a large advertiser could cover all of the upfront costs for an eBook and then pay the publishers/author a fee based on impression rates.

    I agree with you though that Amazon needed to lower the price more on the Kindle. I think at a minimum it should have been $99. Think, advertisers are getting prime ad space that can be updated over the life of the device. Better yet, advertisers get nearly perfect demographics courtesy of Amazon.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    What Amazon is doing is putting ads on the screensaver and at the bottom
    of the home screen. I could almost go for “full page ads” embedded once
    or twice within a book, almost like commercials or magazine advertising
    - IF the book was then free to me, and if I knew how many ads were going
    to be in there. 5 or fewer for a whole novel? Sure. Every other page? No
    way in hell.

    But that’s just me, and I recognize that this model could slippery-slope
    in a heartbeat, too.

    Ad-supported eBooks would have to be free to be a viable proposition, as
    far as I’m concerned. Authors and publishers would derive revenue from
    the ad placements. And there would have to be options for paid, ad-free
    eBooks, too, if you’re asking my not-so-humble opinion – because some
    people just won’t want the ads, and that’s perfectly legitimate.

    Amazon really didn’t do enough of a price drop, no. $25 for ads I have
    to see forever? No thanks.

  • http://tigergray.blogspot.com/ Tiger Gray

    Something about this makes me uncomfortable. I’m already frustrated by how impossible it is to escape ads. Sometimes it feels like every time I go to a website, I have to endure a few seconds of wasted time trying to X out of all the unwanted information about what I can use my money on today. A few seconds isn’t a lot, but it is when added up over the day. You know I am a big believer in e-books and e-readers, (obviously!) but it struck me the other day that the reason you hear so many people waxing poetic about how lovely print is aren’t just in it for the tactile part. It’s because a book feels intimate, solitary, like a break from your day to day. Any time we pick up a digital device, we lessen that feeling of pleasant loneliness a little bit more. Ads are going to make it that much worse. I have a hard time speaking out against cheaper e-readers, but I’m wincing over here. If an ad came up in the middle of a book I would be absolutely against that. Nothing should interrupt your read.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    At the moment, though, the ads are merely on the home screen and on the
    screensaver – that, to me, doesn’t feel much different than the ads that
    used to appear in the back of cheap mass-market paperbacks.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, though, it’s a slippery slope…I can see a
    seller thinking “Oh, if they don’t mind ads on the home screen, surely
    they won’t mind them at the chapter breaks…”

  • http://tigergray.blogspot.com/ Tiger Gray

    Ha, I am just old enough to remember those ads!

    Here’s an article I just found that is starting to turn me around on the ads thing: http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/amazon-answer-to-free-kindle-question.html The reason this article caught my attention was the mention of discounts and so forth offered through the Kindle. Ads have a light side, too, if you’re a discerning and critical customer, which is more of what you want in your hands for less. (obv.)

    I will never support ads in the middle of a book, though. I think immersion is king.