HarperCollins is considering selling interactive ad space in factual e-books, New Media Age reports. The ads would be limited to books that convey factual information, rather than fiction titles. HarperCollins group digital director and publisher David Roth-Ey explains:

“Certain kinds of books create immersive reading experiences whereby ads would be too interruptive for readers, and publishers and even advertisers aren’t likely to put a premium on that. But information books, for example a Collins birds guide, could provide very valuable real estate for contextual advertising – in this case potentially a binoculars manufacturer.”

Other HarperCollins efforts mentioned at the company’s DigiFest conference include ways of increasing the discoverability of e-books to make up for the inability to discover e-book titles by bookstore cover browsing.

I have little doubt that most TeleRead readers will greet the news of ads in e-books with a loud chorus of boos and hisses. But on the other hand, it does seem to work for magazines, doesn’t it? And publishers are in dire enough straits lately that it’s hard to blame them too much for looking for income where they can find it. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see whether this leads to a slippery slope or not.


  1. Well, that didn’t take long. As soon as ads were introduced on Kindle home pages and as screen savers, I just knew it wouldn’t take publishers long to want to grab their own piece of that pie. (Count me as one of the “boo-ers and hiss-ers.)

    Yes, there are ads in magazines…but magazines are mostly short articles where your attention is focused for just a few minutes before moving on, so ads fit in that kind of reading “atmosphere”.

    More importantly…magazines cost four or five bucks. But books are now being priced at $15 and $16, (and FACTUAL books such as the bird guide mentioned often sell for much more). If I’m spending that much, and considering the low over-all cost of producing and selling an e-book, including disruptive ads will look like just another money grab by greedy publishers.

    Note to Harper-Collins: If you were happy with the profits from your paper edition bird guide, despite the high production and distribution costs, then leave the e-book, with its one-time only minimum production and zero distribution costs, alone. Many already see you as greedy; why prove them right?

  2. I see enough advertising all day long. One of the few places left to go to get away from advertising is a book. I don’t care if it’s fiction or non-fiction. A book is its own little world away from the real world.

    Just because something can be done, does not mean it should be done. I realize that publishing companies are desperate to find a way to keep numbers in addition to grow numbers, but I believe advertising in books would be a large, customer alienating mistake. Granted, I’m speaking as a member of a specific demographic (educated, profesional woman, early 40s, works in information science and has worked in publishing). Other demographics may find the concept of advertising in books to be a non-issue, or less of a polarizing issue

    Personally, I will go out of my way to avoid advertising in books. E or P.

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