walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Advertising in e-Books

Most of this h/t The Digital Reader.

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2012/02/07/who-loves-ereaders-infographic/

Essentially, marketers marketing marketing. The argument is a little silly, because it uses the early adopter base in e-readers and extends it to the growth in e-readers (which will presumably come to resemble the general population). The idea (advertising in e-books) is an extrapolation of something which has been tried repeatedly, with marginal success. Anyone who has ever read a serialized novel. The last one I read in situ was probably a Lois McMaster Bujold novel serialized in Analog and the whole experience of trying to buy copies of Analog at bookstores as they came out made me so angry at a series of bookstores that it groomed me to become an _very_ early customer of Amazon, and the windowing effect -- making the novel available in serial form in a magazine before it was available to buy as a book -- was so poisonous that it really slowed me down on the Vorkosigan series. You should understand: whenever a new Vorkosigan novel came out, I was so freaking committed I went back and reread the whole series from the beginning. Then I bought it in hardcover. Then I read it the day I bought it. It took a lot to turn me off these books.

I read the following with incredulity:

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2012/02/09/the-seven-words-that-will-kill-books/

It's not Adin this time; it's Mike Cane. The style is very different and I would never describe Cane as pedantic.

Cane's reasoning is straightforward. Once ads are in books, authors/publishers will be forced to do whatever the advertisers want them to do (or not do things the advertisers don't want them to do). There are some problems with this as a thesis, but first, I just want to point out that what Harlequin did that so freaked Cane and the blogger he pointed to out was remove some misogynistic violence. Harleqin did this for the reason that _everyone_ bowdlerizes: to make a cultural artifact acceptable to a population which would otherwise reject it. There are people who would prefer the cultural artifact be left unchanged but also unavailable (that would be me, at least in this case) and there are people who would prefer the cultural artifact be left unchanged and the population of consumers adjust to accept it (I fall on this side in some circumstances as well, and to use a hardboiled example, I _don't_ prefer "motherraping" as a replacement for "motherfucking", thank you very much, in Chester Himes novels).

Ahem.

To return to the point. Advertiser induced changes in magazines, television and movies are the result of a fare-box recovery issue that is obviously not present in books, at least not in the examples given.

"When it comes to non-fiction, say, who’s going to advertise in a book revealing war atrocities our troops committed in foreign lands? Nobody."

Really? I find that a little hard to believe. There are plenty of organizations that are anti-war and would presumably be all over supporting this project -- and I'm betting there are people on the victims' side who might want in, too.

"When it comes to fiction, who’s going to advertise in a James Patterson book in which a character has a live snake inserted up their anus? You think PETA? You think anybody?"

With Patterson's sales, I'm relatively certain that just about anyone in marketing could overcome their own personal objections. The issue would then devolve to whether an organized boycott brought the matter to the attention of someone more squeamish in corporate. In that situation, it'd be handled like all boycotts are: badly. Would Patterson be convinced to remove, the, er, offending, er, passage (sorry)? Could Little, Brown be convinced to stop, er, servicing him long enough to apply pressure to induce a change? No. The ad would be pulled, a clause in the contract would be pointed out and the money would _not_ be refunded. Ha ha ha. The next person on standby for ad space in a Patterson novel would be contacted. Patterson is the world's worst example for this; that man gets to do any damn thing he wants until his books quit moving which will not likely happen soon. The only reason a boycott wouldn't _increase_ his sales is because there aren't that many people left who aren't already buying him. (Even I read one or two before I figured out that I didn't like them and stopped.)

A better example would be someone who had one bestseller and has a second one coming out which people have high hopes for so the advertisers have lined up but there's this one paragraph ... But that's a rare bird; they're on their own.

"The endgame will be: What can’t get ads won’t get published."

And this is the point at which I blink and go, um, I'll just go read some of Konrath's blog for a while. But before I do that:

For fluffy coverage:

http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/Column/Flexing-Your-Content/Advertising-in-Ebooks-Heresy-or-Genius-77412.htm

(That article is what Spam E-Books Are Coming articles _should_ have been.)

For better coverage (hold your nose, I know it is WSJ):

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703727804576012041836406736.html (headline: Marketers Test Ads in E-Books, date is 13 Dec 2010, author Emily Steel).

Steel makes some good points. Most books move few copies and they do so over a fairly wide time period, making it not particularly profitable and also hard to target ads (altho it might be possible to work around this with technology, as she notes). "many author contracts say the writer has to approve any ads." If authors, as a rule, were easy to negotiate with and inclined to make the most economically profitable decision for themselves, they probably wouldn't be authors (James Patterson excepted, of course).
Tags: e-book coverage
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