wowio We’ve run a couple of speculative pieces about the idea of advertisements or product placement in e-books. Responses have tended to run toward shuddering at yet another way for publishers to make money on top of gouging consumers. But at least one e-book publisher is moving forward with it.

A Fox News article looks at Wowio, which has long offered free PDFs incorporating ads to pay for their download. Now Wowio is looking to branch out into EPUBs of up to 50,000 better-known books from distributor Ingram. These books will not be ad-supported (yet), and prices are yet to be determined, but Wowio has applied for a “very broad patent” on e-book advertising next month.

According to the article, Wowio’s advertising is not intrusive, beyond adding a few extra pages to the front of the book. And if it allows them to offer the books at a reduced price, then it might be a good thing. I would be willing to put up with an ad or two for a reduced price in an e-book, especially if the reduced price was “free”.

Of course, if the books are offered in the standard Adobe Adept DRM, downloaders could simple crack the DRM and edit the EPUB to remove the ads. But then again, that’s a lot of effort to go to just to save a few bucks, or to keep from looking at ads.


  1. Like I’ve said before, I’m fine with the idea of ads in books, as long as they aren’t videos and don’t make noise. I see it as a much less intrusive option than product placement. Reading PDFs on my reader is a huge pain, but I would definitely be interested in free or reduced-price ePub books with ads.

  2. To clarify a couple of items in the original post and comments…

    Sponsored (ad-supported) WOWIO books — the ones that are given to the reader for free by sponsoring companies — only have material added to the front and back. Between the covers, we don’t insert any advertising/sponsorship materials or product placements. The body of the book is exactly as the publisher provides it to us.

    On occasion, sponsors ask that we include multimedia elements in their ads. In those cases, playback is always controlled by the reader.

    As for DRM… our sponsored books have certain features designed to protect publishers and authors, but they do not contain any DRM that prevent their owners from using the titles freely among their reading devices. We haven’t found piracy to be a big issue — our readers tell us they want to support writers and publishers by downloading their own PDFs of sponsored books. After all, such downloads are free for the reader and it’s easy enough to download one’s own personal copy.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail