E-Books and Ads

And here we go. I knew it wouldn’t take long before they started with this. To wit: Barnes & Noble’s new e-book reader, the Nook:

Nook ad

And look what we have across the bottom panel: Ads! Right now they’re displaying books, but I’m sure that’s easy enough to change. According to this article in Marketing Vox it’s only the beginning:

As print publishers increasingly seek to diversify into the digital space, these efforts will lead to more granular opportunities to target advertising locally, or by gender, or by consumer taste.

The only thing that surprises me here is that B&N beat Amazon to the punch.

Somehow, they say you can loan e-books, free of charge for up to fourteen days:

You can share nook to nook, but it doesn’t stop there. Using the new Barnes & Noble LendMe™ technology… you will be able to lend to and from any iPhone™, iPod touch®, BlackBerry®, PC, or Mac®, with the free Barnes and Noble eReader software downloaded on it.

Interesting development. The nook starts shipping in November, you can pre-order them now.  Whatever. Just give me the hardcopy.

21 thoughts on “E-Books and Ads

  1. One of the reasons I read books is that there are no damn commercials. Scratch that Kindle off my Xmas list (it was never there to begin with, actually) Sure, there are all kinds of free downloads available if you hunt around online, but as I’ve said before, why not use ’em with an I-phone or a mini-laptop, which currently offer more versatility for less $$?


  2. I knew they’d figure out a way to include advertising on these things eventually. I’m still waiting for them to get hacked, and start seeing spam on them. They use the same cell phone networks to download the e-book data so I figure it’s just a matter of time. I’ve also seen articles lately talking about e-book piracy, the new Dan Brown book has already been pirated.


  3. I absolutely do not understand why some book industry insiders think that E-books are this glorious thing that shall revitalize the book industry.

    Sure, evidently some people find them convenient. Okay. So they can buy their Kindle, or whatever, and enjoy it. Fine.

    But in no way, should e-books ever take the place of real books.

    Think about everything we’d lose!

    1. the pure joy of looking at beautiful covers, reading back blurbs, flipping the pages
    2. the joy of browsing the stacks of bookstores, chancing upon an author you’ve never heard of…Seriously, the thought of no bookstores is nightmarish to me
    3. someone browsing in a bookstore. chancing upon a book that *you* wrote
    4. buying/receiving a book for/from someone with an inscription inside (yes, I’m a sentimentalist. I love things like that!)
    5. thousands and thousands of people who would lose their jobs if bookstores closed
    6. cover artists, book binders, and everyone else involved in making books. that’s thousands of more people out of work
    7. booksignings

    Oh, and yes- piracy! It’s already a huge problem. And worked wonders indeed for the music industry.

    I don’t think E-books will actually ever take the place of real books. But if they do- they would make a few stockholders VERY rich; as for the rest of us…


  4. I have to wonder if half the hype over e-books isn’t simply that they’re a novelty, the latest tech toy/gadget, and they’re banking on the public’s fascination with all things tech (witness the popularity of the iPhone, over 3 million sold last quarter alone)? I wonder what will happen when the novelty wears off.

    I also think people were expecting e-books to be cheaper than their physical counterparts, what with no production, shipping, distribution, warehousing, etc. costs. Well, surprise, folks! Stephen King’s new e-book due out in Dec. (a month after the hardcover is released) is going to sell for $35. That’s right – $35 for an e-book. I’d really like to know how they justify that.

    That’s a good point about the book signings, Tasha. I wonder if they’ve thought about that? People love to get to see their favorite author, and have their copy signed. It feels like our entire lives are being reduced to 1’s and 0’s.

    I’m still really disturbed about the fact that technology changes so quickly, so what happens when you have to continually upgrade your reader to keep reading your books? Is it going to be like musical recordings and movies, the formats keep changing and you have to keep buying new ones? That is (was?) the beauty of books, no technology involved in reading a book.


    1. what you said, Didge – there’s no damn reason why e-books should be as expensive (or more so – where are the e-remainder racks?!) as paper books, and I think the reading/buying public is smart enough to realize that the publishers are charging us more for something that costs them far, far less. Of course the banking industry manages to get away with this, and with putting millions of bank tellers outta work, while charging us to withdraw our own money from ATM machines, but money is fungible – it IS convenient sometimes to use the machine and get the cash, whereas there’s no particular advantage to justify the limited selection, annoying spammy ads, expensive initial buy-in for the device, and the constant risk of losing this pricey item.


  5. “It feels like our entire lives are being reduced to 1’s and 0’s. ”

    Exactly. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that at the same time, hobbies like knitting and crocheting have skyrocketed. There’s an innate need for homey, tacticle things.

    “and the constant risk of losing this pricey item.”

    That’s already happened, too. There was that uproar when Amazon pulled both 1984 and Animal Farm from users’ Kindle because they’d accidently sent them illegal copies.


  6. Just as an FYI…ebooks carry their own expenses apart from normal book distribution. There are production costs that can at times equal the costs of pages designed for print. Yes, you do not have the warehousing costs, but you have digital conversion costs, and elevated (sometimes double) author royalty rates. Plus, publishers are being asked to digitize their whole catalogs, running an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.


  7. Hi Nathan,

    I realize it’s not free to digitize books (although I don’t know what the actual cost is), but I’d really like to see a breakdown cost analysis of producing and selling an e-book vs. a hardcover. With royalties typically in the 8% range (or less) for the author doubling that doesn’t seem outrageous. Transportation is a huge cost, and with e-books it’s eliminated so there must be substantial savings there.


    1. well, for e-books, most of the industry is settling on a 20-25% royalty for authors for e-book sales. At this time, you can hope to sell roughly 10-12 printed books for every e-book you sell (in our house, its more 100 to 1). I am sure once the market matures, and e-book sales gain a stronger footing, you will see prices drop to more reasonable levels. Our company sells mainly trade paperbacks at 14.99. Kindle sells at 9.99. Automatically a 33% off list price. So let’s assume a fifty/fifty split between publisher and reseller. That leaves the house with 5 dollars net. Author gets 25%, which leaves 3.75 for the house. Most e-books at this time (barring the best-seller) average around 100 units of sales on the kindle their first year. That means you’ve made $375 dollars on that book. Take $100 to convert your titles from designed page proofs to ePub format for distribution. That leaves you $275 to help defer costs of administration, editorial, marketing (you have to spend some). As you can see, the publisher is not exactly rolling in the dough as far as pure, un-expensed profit.

      The bestseller model will be more advantageous, but as most books put out there will not sell nearly as many, the economics as the media portrays it are a little different then what is actually going on.

      Now, as I said, all this will change as the ebook gains a larger percentage of sales for a released book.


      1. Thanks for that breakdown, Nathan. I know Amazon and Wal-Mart’s price war over e-books is dragging them both into the red. When e-books were getting started, and Kindles and e-book readers were new(er), there were many places online to download e-books for a pittance, some as low as $.99, $2.99, etc. I remember people then being aghast at paying $10 for an e-book. I don’t begrudge publishers a fair price, hell as a wannabe author I’d like to make bank as well, but $35 for an e-book? I can wait until the price drops, I don’t need to read anything that badly.


      2. Again, as an investment, if I buy a hardcover book for $25 I can donate it to the library, give it to a friend, swap it on FreeCycle, use it to prop up a wobbly table, or sell it for a couple of dollars on Ebay. If I spend 30% more on an ebook, the e-publisher wants me to keep it in my Kindle and that’s it – it pooches the whole purpose of digital technology, which is supposed to be speed of transmission and ease of portability.

        I guess one of the things I love about books is their thingness – once I buy the object, or receive it as a gift, it is mine to do with as I please. Readers tend to be independent spirits – we do not like our media with strings attached.


      3. understood. there should be a price break from print. The Stephen King book for sale at $35 is ridiculous…but has created quite the free marketing buzz for him hasn’t it?

        No, you will see prices settle in long term between 10-15 dollars, with publishers giving short term price breaks and “sales”, again, once volume picks up, and publishers get metrics set up as to how e-books harvest print sales. That is the big question right now. Is it a tit-for-tat in regards to sales. IF it is, then print runs will have to be reduced, driving up the costs of print runs (shorter runs means higher unit costs) meaning that more revenue needs to be gathered from the ebook (i.e. higher price) to make the balance sheet even out.

        There is also more costs involved than just distribution. On any giving P/L for a book, the biggest single expense which is 50/50 on whether it is recouped is the author advance. For some unknown reason, those dang authors always want their chunk! 🙂


  8. I absolutely understand that it’s not free – maybe no even cheap – to digitize a book, but once the information is digitized, it’s done, and it costs next to nothing to transmit it to the customer. I just don’t see how that could compare to to the cost of printing, binding, packing, shipping and storing millions of individual copies of a paper book. As for the initial investment, or buy-in, that should be the e-publisher’s responsibility, not that of the customer – I wouldn’t pay 3X the price of a meal just because a new restaurant needed to recoup its investment.

    Again, I just don’t see what I’m getting for all the money being asked of me.


    1. That was kind of my thought too, that the digitization process, whatever that entails, equates to setting up for a print run. Once it’s done, it’s done. Even subsequent printings are already taken care of, in that sense. The infrastructure for transmitting the e-book was built by the cell phone carriers.

      After having to buy an expensive piece of equipment to be able to read the e-book, the books themselves need to be affordable. If I feel like I’m being gouged on the price of the e-book, I’ll stick to the physical books. Cory Doctorow is giving away his books electronically via his Web site, releasing them simultaneously with the print releases.


      1. that’s similar to what Prince has been doing with music – he gave away copies of his CD free to everyone who bought a ticket to his last concert tour, and industry insiders were furious b/c all those giveaways pushed the disc to number 1 on the charts. (And honestly, how cheap is it to burn a CD? He could probably afford to do this because the marketing and promotion costs weren’t eating him alive.) I say there is NO TRUER indicator of an artist’s popularity than the fact that all those people want to see him in person, and if he wants to boost his ratings while rewarding his fans, well then the little purple genius has cracked the code.


      2. And Trent Reznor, allowing free downloads of his music from his site. I’m sure that’s only a viable tactic once an artist has reached the level of recognizability people like NIN and Prince have, they’re selling out concerts anyway.


Comments are closed.