6a00d83452242969e20133ec9d713c970b-120wi.jpgApple’s upcoming iPhone OS update will include an option for in-app advertising. The iAd service is just the next step Apple is taking to beat Google in what will surely be a very lucrative mobile advertising market.

Does this represent an opportunity for book publishers and authors? Absolutely. Hear me out, even if you’re one of those purists who insists on books existing as they always have, without ads…

Let’s start with the fact that you could always sell two versions of your products: one with ads and one without. The version without ads is priced higher than the one with the ads. Test, measure, rinse, repeat. Why wouldn’t you want the opportunity to study real world data from your customers to see whether ads have an impact on product acceptance and sales? The results might just surprise you.

Or, how about all those free samples you have floating around? I’m talking about the excerpts you distribute in the hopes that you’ll convert some number of browsers into buyers. Your conversion rate is something less than 100%, so why not find other ways to monetize that experience?

This is yet another one of the Kindle platform’s shortcomings. Amazon never built a model content owners could leverage to drive some additional revenue. They didn’t offer it with books but I’m even more amazed that they never figured it out for newspapers and magazines, especially since we’re all quite used to seeing ads throughout those products.

In case you haven’t noticed, most customers feel ebook prices should be lower than print prices. That pricing pressure alone should cause every author and publisher to experiment with services like iAd. What have you got to lose?

P.S. — If Apple is smart they’ll build iAd into the iBooks app. You’ll tell them whether or not you want iAd service included every time you provide them with ePub files for your next book. Hopefully they’ll also let publishers try out that two-pronged approach where the book is available both with and without ads, at two different prices.

Editor’s Note: the above is reprinted, with permission, from Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog. PB


  1. As I’ve noted before, books are horrible means of delivering ads–which means that advertisers (who aren’t stupid) will pay minimal dollars for advertising space in books. I don’t have ethical concerns with ads in books but I don’t think the revenue potential can possibly outweigh the inconvenience to customers.

    Rob Preece

  2. “Let’s start with the fact that you could always sell two versions of your products: one with ads and one without. ”

    There are plenty of apps that already do this.

    And you say it as though there are going to be “with ads” books that cost X, and “without ads” books that cost X+Y. What’s going to actually HAPPEN is that there will be “with ads” books that cost X+Y, AND we’ll be told how wonderful it is that the ads are specifically targeted to us.

  3. If I understand it right, iAd has Apple using someone’s app to sell ads that they’ve sold to all comers. That’s of use to app developers but of little use to authors.

    I’d be a bit more interested if iBookstore books (rather than iTunes Store apps) could include author chosen ads, perhaps at the very end. Writers could give away one book with internal ads that’d let them link to their other books. And rather than have Apple take a major slice of the revenues from this sort of ad link, Apple’s iBookstore would pay a commission to those doing the linking, much like Amazon does.

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