Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Don’t Books Feature Ads?

Books do not contain advertising, at least not the printed ones produced by major traditional publishers and sold in bookstores.  But you have to wonder why publishers have not tried to capitalize on this obvious revenue stream that could increase profits significantly.

Look at what book publishers could do:

1.      Sell ads in the back of the book.
2.      Have a sponsoring ad on the back cover – or front.
3.      Run ads at the end of a chapter.
4.      Create a centerfold with advertisements.

The ads would be for national brands, not local businesses, unless the book specifically has a one-state, one-city, or one-region focus to its content.  The ads could be totally unrelated to the subject matter, such as an auto or fast-food ad in a business book or it can be directly related to the content, such as sex toys for erotic novels or hotel and airline companies for a travel book.  You just don’t want a conflict of interest to arise, between advertiser and the book’s content.

You also don’t want a book turning into a magazine or newspaper, where up to half of the page count is full of advertisements.  It should be done on a smaller, more tasteful scale.

To get ads would require a number of things from publishers:

·         A way to secure ads.
·         A method to design the ads.
·         A vetting system to determine which ads are appropriate.
·         A way to determine what could be charged.
·         How to make use of digital ad platforms for the ebook.

Would consumers be okay with the ads?

·         Who cares – it’s a money-maker!
·         They are expecting to see ads for videos and everything else, so why not this?
·         They would love it if it keeps prices down or contained.
·         They would appreciate it if the ads are useful and valuable.

But I’m not the first person to think of this.  Obviously it’s been rejected and won’t become a reality any time soon.  However, I don’t see a clear reason why this is not happening.

Some books will advertise backlist titles.  Others will promote the services and products of an author. Bookstores see those ads as competing with them and their ability to sell books.  But they won’t balk if BMW is advertising in a novel, would they?

For that matter, why don’t publisher websites or retail bookstores features advertising of non-books?  Think about it.  If a publisher gets a lot of web traffic, why not advertise Uber?  Why don’t local bookstores feature bulletin-board ads for neighboring businesses?  There’s money to be made here!

Talking about money and ads, I can’t get over Prevention Magazine’s decision to publish without ads.  That’s right, a magazine with half of the 3.25 million readership per issue of 2006, is dumping its ad stream.  They figured out that the cost to secure and print ads was more than it paid.  They’ll raise their cover price by 25% and double their subscription rate – but expect to shed two thirds of their subscribers in the process.  Under their math, that’s all a winning plan.

I don’t see how it could be, but if it is, something’s still wrong.  You don’t just give up on a revenue stream. You make adjustments – cut expenses, increase fees, and vary your offerings.  But the print model in the news media still struggles.

Britain’s major daily, The Independent, went paperless last month.  It’s all digital.  Spain’s largest daily warned it may go the same route.  That would be horrible.

Meanwhile, none of this stops the launching of a new newspaper. The New Day, a-five-day-a-week print-only outlet in Britain.  They don’t even have a website.

While magazines and newspapers struggle to figure out the balance between print and digital -- and how to charge for advertising and monetize content – book publishers could be poised for a huge upside should they fully explore how to diversify by implementing some type of advertising model to their books.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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