I just saw this press release from EbookPlus, which wants to make books legally free. Sounds good, right? But wait, there’s more. That’s free, with advertising.

eBookPlus.com offers any company the opportunity to create publicity to place in an eBook, whether it is a video, an image or a HTML page. The advertising is unobtrusive, placed only at the beginning of each chapter, volume or part of a particular title. This advertising is presented to readers for a few seconds, after which they can read the eBook normally without interruption during the whole of the chapter. Payment is only debited to the advertiser’s account and credited to the author/publisher when the ad is seen. The majority of funds raised go directly to the author or publisher.

If you spend any time hanging out with people who read e-books, you can probably predict their reaction to this. When Amazon launched the ad-supported Kindles, the most commonly asked question was, “will the ads show up in my books?” (They do not.) Most readers I know are fine with ads on their home screens, but don’t even suggest putting them within the books themselves.

I predict a huge backlash among readers if authors or publishers try this. Personally, I’d rather pay a pretty high price than have ads interrupting my reading experience.


  1. If the ad appeared outside of my control, at the beginning of each chapter (rather like ads scattered through a tv show), it certainly would interrupt *my* reading experience.

    I can’t think of a more hideous thing to do to a good book.

  2. I have three responses to ads in ebooks: no, hell no, and bloody hell no. I will not tolerate ads: not in the books and not on the home screen. No ads. I can always go back to reading paper books. I wouldn’t want to, but I could. I’m going to go for books with ads. Is the horse dead yet?

    Also, do the math. Suppose the ebook would otherwise have a price of $9.99, the ads must cover that cost. That’s a lot of ground to cover with one ad. How much is an ad inside a book worth? At $1.00 you’d have 10 ads; at $0.50 you’d have 20 ads; at $0.25 you’d have 40 ads.

    Who would want to read a book with 40 ads? At 400 pages that would be an ad every 10 pages.

    I just don’t see the ad supported ebook as a viable model.

  3. Right there with you, Greg, although I’ve been surprised at how much I don’t mind ads on my home screen. I’ve recently discovered two great books, Tears in Rain, which I reviewed, and Only the Innocent, which I’m reading now, from home screen ads on my Kindle. I would have missed them otherwise, and I’m glad to have read them. That makes it worthwhile for me, though I totally respect you feeling otherwise!

  4. I’m not advocating the use of adverts in books but it is worth pointing out that this isn’t something new. A Danish company, Bookboon, has built its whole international publishing model around freely downloadable, freely distributable, PDF ebooks with half-page adverts every few pages. O.K. so they’re not novels but textbooks, business books and travel guides. I’ve downloaded a few just to try and didn’t find the adverts particularly intrusive. It may be that Bookboon has hit on categories that lend themselves to advertising. I can see some benefit to the reader of a travel guide if it contains a few well-placed adverts to airlines, hotels, attractions etc.

    I’ve no connection to Bookboon but I would suggest you might like to download a book or two just to see — http://www.bookboon.com

  5. Mike, those wouldn’t bother me as much. I don’t immerse myself in non-fiction the way I do in fiction, where an ad would yank me right out of the story.

    Avoiding ads is also the big reason we cancelled cable and only use Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. I won’t even watch on Hulu. I realize some will say this makes me a “bad consumer,” but I’ll take it.

  6. Juli, you’re mileage may vary, but as I see it, what’s the point of an ad for a book on my Kindle screen. Does it matter which title I buy? I’m probably not going to buy more books because of an ad — just a different one if the ad works. I’m still going to buy some book, so the ad is a moot point.

    Also, the two times I’ve a Kindle SO screen it was for movies. Now maybe I’m just too cynical, but seeing an ad for a movie isn’t going to motivate or convince me to see that movie. And the day is better when I don’t have look at another image of the Twilight girl and boy.

  7. Greg, I think the point of the ad is to get me to buy the book advertised *instead* of another book. Maybe it gets me to buy more, maybe it doesn’t, but the advertiser wants me to buy their book.

    The movie ad is a good point. I got so tired of seeing Edward some months back that I almost paid to have ads turned off.

    I’m still not crazy about advertising on my book, but I did appreciate the lower cost of the Kindle, and I have benefited by finding books I would not have otherwise, so it’s been good for me. However, I absolutely do not want any advertising once I’m in a book. That would be a deal breaker for me. I tolerate them on my Home Screen, but I’d never tolerate it within the book itself. I don’t even like ad-supported apps, though I do have a few.

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