This article, from Kit Eaton, originally appeared on Fast Company on 7/6/09.
[Publetariat Editor’s note: what does this mean to authors? If an author’s poor word choice or odd bit of clunky dialog can pull the reader out of the story, is there much doubt that context-sensitive popup ads will do the same? And will authors who self-publish using Amazon’s DTP have any choice in the matter? We’ll keep an eye out for new developments in this area. Add your comments below.]
Amazon’s just filed a number of patents that point to the inevitable but perhaps undesirable expansion of advertising onto its much-vaunted Kindle e-reader. If it happens, would you tolerate in-book or in-magazine embedded ads?
The patents are titled "On-Demand Generating E-Book Content with Advertising" and "Incorporating Advertising in On-Demand Generated Content," and they’re designed in part to tackle that irritating little problem that "out of print or rare books … typically do not include advertisements" and their content is thus fixed, and not at all "adapted to modern marketing." I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall seeing any advertising in books now, other than fluff for other publications by the same author, so Amazon’s words confuse me.
What the patents set out is that downloaded text content for the Kindle could be spotted with contextually-sensitive advertisements: Mention of a restaurant on a particular page could result in a dynamic-embed for a nearby restaurant to the user on the opposing page. It kind of makes sense as a more dynamic version of the way typical magazines work–after all, when you buy an interior decor magazine, you expect to find ads for furniture or sleek kitchen equipment, not for the latest computer games. And, since the Kindle is beginning to host blog content as well, this scheme begins to look like Amazon’s version of Google AdSense.