NOTE: The full text is not available via the BUT if you run this search on Google News, the first result should provide the full text of the article.

From the Article:

Google has taken the first steps in this direction. Its Google Books archive—a collection of over 10 million scanned books from the world’s largest libraries—displays advertisements next to search results. It’s a small step to imagine Google including advertisements within books, especially since its 2008 settlement over copyright violations with the Authors Guild. For its part, Amazon filed a patent for advertisements on its Kindle device last year. And Apple has recently entered the advertising game with its iAd platform for mobile devices.


For consumers, the free samples of digital books now available would surely include ads. Because not every consumer who reads a sample chapter will buy the book, it’s reasonable for the publisher to extract some additional value. Seeing ads in the sample may also convince a reader to pay for a premium, non-ad version of the full-length book. The old market segmentation of paperbacks and hardcovers will be replaced by ad-supported or ad-free books.

But admittedly, there will be a backlash:

Even though periodicals like the New Yorker and the Atlantic have printed ads alongside serious fiction and nonfiction since their founding, purists will surely decry ads in books. But historically, the lack of advertising in books has had less to do with the sanctity of the product and more to do with the fact that books are a lousy medium for ads.



When you search the large collections of books and other digitized materials at The Internet Archive (Including The Wayback Machine) and The Open Library, no ads are listed on result pages or book info pages. There are also no ads on Project Gutenberg results pages (even though if you find the same Gutenberg title on a Google Books results page, there is). Being that it’s funded by several universities (an educational resource), ads are also not present on Hathi Trust results pages.

Since all universities are always on the lookout for new revenue sources what about putting ads on OPAC results pages? They could be local and even targets to the area of campus to where the computer terminal is located.

We wonder if it will be OK? (not from a legal standpoint since the material is out of copyright) but from an” understing what needs to be done,” pov for non-profits and educational organizations to go back to the most popular out of copyright titles and place advertising on various pages that have been digitized? We don’t think it would be that difficult. Then, what happens (we’re not sure it would be allowed to happen, phew) if those ads were targeted to you based on passed books visited, other searching habits, etc.?

Source: WSJ
Hat Tip: The Atlantic

See Also: Ads in Books Debate Divides Twitter (via GalleyCat)

Via Resource Shelf


  1. I cannot imagine how _Pride and Prejudice_ could be improved–or even just not degraded–by ads for lipstick and botox. Likewise _Treasure Island_ by ads for ammunition and survivalist magazines, or _The Old Man And The Sea_ by ads for baitshops, or _On The Origin Of Species_ by ads for Answers In Genesis.

    Think of TV. Once the stories were interrupted by ads four times an hour. Now it’s six (unless it’s more, now) and the last half of the story is completely fractured. Now imagine someone interrupting you six times an hour as you attempt to read your book.

    Does it sound fun to you? Fine; you read them.

    I won’t be.

    (If your heart’s totally set on having ads, put a few (nonmoving, silent) ads for “other books of this genre” after the end of the book, where disinterested people can easily ignore them.)

  2. I don’t read vampire romances, however, wouldn’t an ad for tampax be the bomb for those kind of books. 🙂

    If some books have ads for consumer products or services in the middle, interruptting the flow, I’ll be reading other books.

  3. Purists are prudes who can pay premium to get books without ads. It’s silly to think ads can’t be easily ignored. Growing up reading comics and now reading other kinds of magazines, my eyes have learned to quickly recognize and skip over advertising. Anyway, the prospect of ads in books excites me because it wouldn’t take long for clever people to figure out how to get rid of the ads (probably involving the stripping of DRM). Then I could get cheaper books (possibly free books) and still have them sans advertising. I have no moral qualms with this in the least. 🙂

  4. Imho Amazon and others had better be very careful going down this route. In the case of a valuable free service such as possible free book services by Google, I can understand and accept a small intrusion. However if Amazon think they can put advertising into legitimate eBooks that readers are paying for then they are completely insane. even into sample chapters. There are times when business models for products include the quid pro quo of adverts, such as cheap apps on the iPhone. Free videos on youtube etc. Other free services. But eBooks are a product coming out of an industry with a well proven profitability and no justification for such a move.
    I for one would never ever ever pay for an eBook of a novel if I thought for one minute there was advertising in it. Period.

  5. Howard: I’m being pedantic here, but (in my experience) just about every mass-market paperback novel has advertising in it. It’s discreetly positioned just inside the back cover, not jammed in your face.

    Many novels—especially in mass-market paperback—also have excerpts from the next book in the series. We can disagree over whether that’s promotion or advertising, but it’s certainly not relevant to the main title. Again, though, it’s positioned after the end of the story rather than jammed in your face.

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