Sunday, October 30, 2016

Is It Time To Allow Books To Include Advertising?

Advertising expenditures have gone up every year from the prior year seemingly forever, at least in each year of the 21st century except for 2009, when the Great Recession fully took hold.  Digital has led the way in terms of growth for the advertising industry.  But projections show that print is in trouble.  Maybe books should start allowing for advertising.

At present here’s how ad money is spent in the U.S. out of $552 billion projected to be spent in 2017, the breakdown by medium shows that:

40.4% of ad money is in television
33.3% digital
9% newspapers
6.9% magazines
5.8% outdoor (like billboards)
4.3% radio

It’s time that books embrace advertising.  You could do it in so many tasteful ways:

1.      Limit it to three advertisements per book.

2.      Have a single sponsor for the book.

3.      Allow consumers book price discounts if they agree to receive emailed ads from a select advertiser.

4.      Insert an advertising card/flier into a book\

5.      Put ads only in between chapters, the back of the book or the very front.

There’s something refreshing about books being ad-free, but if authors and publishers increase their profitability and thus visibility via advertising, so be it.  As long as the ads don’t harm the content or conflict in any way, what’s the big deal?

If book publishing took in 1% of all ad revenue, that would be over five and a half billion dollars! If it took a tenth of that or one one-thousandth of the ad pie – the windfall would be 550 million bucks each year.  That could bankroll plenty of writers.

Advertising and sponsors exist at publishing events, conferences, and seminars so why not in the books themselves.  Book media, such as PW, NYT, and Huffington Post receive ad revenue for writing about books, so why not have the book industry earn some money too?

Or are there dangers and deficits associated with advertising?  For instance, what if an advertiser got involved in scandals?  Does the book feel dirtied by say having a Wells Fargo ad in it?

What about politically sensitive issues or people – can ads by the NRA, Donald Trump, or Marlboro run in a book in good conscience?  Can authors separate themselves from any conflict of interest issues when it comes to having advertisers and financial backers?

Will readers start to judge a book by its advertisers?  Would some not buy a novel by one who has ads against Planned Parenthood in it?  Would that same reader purposely buy a book for having other types of ads?

Some book publishers are owned by multi-media conglomerates, so it surprises me that a publisher like Harper Collins, with connections to Fox-TV and The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, doesn’t run ads in select book titles.  But maybe the cost associated with getting and running ads – or the problems I just mentioned –outweigh the rewards of opening this additional revenue stream.

It’s hard to believe in a society where ads are all over the place, where few marketing opportunities are missed, that a big industry such as book publishing has missed the boat.  

Maybe I should be thankful, but it is something that some entrepreneurial writers and publishers should strongly consider experimenting with.

On Writing

“The written word preserves what otherwise might be lost among the impressions that inundate our lives. Thoughts, insights, and perceptions constantly threaten to leave us before we have the opportunity to grasp their meaning. Writing can keep technology-driven, fast-paced, quick-fix, ambiguity-intolerant modern life from overpowering us— and give us something palpable upon which to reflect. Reflection slows matters down. It analyzes what was previously unexamined, and opens doors to different interpretations of what was there all along. Writing, by encouraging reflection, intensifies life.” -- Helena Hjalmarsson

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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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