By most accounts, the publishing industry has been having a tough time of late, having to adapt to increased competition from the Internet and video games; falling sales; and the explosion of self-publishing and print-on-demand technologies. In addition, publishers are searching for ways to make e-books attractive and profitable, and like music publishers before them, they need to come up with new business models and new revenue opportunities.
One such opportunity is the inclusion of advertising in books, both print and electronic, and there are two ways this could happen:
- Firstly, traditional ads could be included in the end pages of books, much as the old mail order ads for x-ray specs and sea monkeys used to be included in the backs of American comic books.
- Secondly, and this is perhaps more interesting, interactive hyperlinks could be included within the actual text of the book itself.
If a character in the book drinks a particular brand of soft drink, a link could be included to a promotional landing page on that company’s website; or if the action takes place in New York or San Francisco, links could be included to hotels or tourist attractions in those cities.
Would this kind of advertising work, or would it put off more readers than it attracted, leading to further falls in sales? Could it revolutionise the publishing industry, or would it lead to less variety as advertisers pay only for space in books by big-name authors, leaving books by new writers struggling to attract finance?
Would you buy a book with advertising included in it, or does the very idea repulse you? Can you foresee advertising becoming ubiquitous in literature, or do you have alternative suggestions for the future of the publishing industry?
I’d like to hear your thoughts…
Gareth L Powell is the author of the novels The Recollection and Silversands, and the short story collection The Last Reef. He is also a regular contributor to Interzone and can be found online at www.garethlpowell.com