Two months ago I wrote a brief post on ads in books. I said I was in favor of ads in books, as long as they weren’t too obtrusive. I still hold to that opinion, although I think now I’m becoming even more fond of the idea.
A company called Wowio is offering some of their ad-supported books for free. They currently specialize in graphic novels, but I think the idea is worth thinking about some more.
Ads in books are especially attractive for those that self-publish e-books. Let’s say I have a book on fly fishing. I sell this book for $2.99 on Amazon, and make roughly $2 per copy sold.
Now lets say I approach four online fly fishing retailers. I have a book that is being bought by those who are either serious about fly fishing, or those just getting into the hobby. Let’s say I charge each retailer 50 cents to put an ad in the book. I can now drop my price to 99 cents (Amazon won’t let self-publishers drop it to zero). The lower price sells more copies, but I’m making roughly the same amount.
This is a win-win for both parties. The retailers win because they get some pretty cheap and directed advertising. The author wins because they are selling more copies of the book, which drive them up the best-sellers list, and also helps increase word of mouth.
The retailers might be uncomfortable writing a blank check (what if you sell 10,000 copies, and they suddenly have to come up with $5,000), but you could see the ads in chunks. So the retailers give you $4,000, and after you’ve sold 2,000 books, the ads come out and the price goes back up.
I think unobtrusive ads in books will be a source of revenue in the future from which everybody will win. Readers will enjoy a lower price, merchants will have a way to direct their message to a targeted audience, and authors and publishers will have an additional revenue stream.