View Full Version : A Good Analogy


wgrimm
08-10-2007, 09:08 AM
There have been many discussions on this forum regarding proper marketing and pricing of e-books and competition with paper books; has anyone mentioned the similarity that exists between television and e-books? Before TV, people paid to watch movies in movie theatres. When TV came along, this same business model would not work to generate income for several reasons- people wanted to watch TV in their homes, the screens were too small for display to a crowd in a theatre, etc. Businesses managed to design a valid business model for TV- that allowed the broadcasters, as well as entertainers and TV manufacturers to receive income.

I think something like this will happen with e-books; hardware ebook manufacturers as well as authors will be able to generate income from e-books. I am not so sure that the traditional publisher will retain their importance, but definitely some sort of filtering mechanism will need to be in place so that we are not inundated with garbage (although traditional publishers have inundatted us with reams of garbage- consider authors like Harold Robbins).

I don't care for the Public Lending Right system, like Canada and the UK have, where authors are paid for borrowings of their work. Because I see a potential for abuse (schemes to have people borrow the book many times to increase author payments- similar happened with L. Ron Hubbard's book- the Scientologists would buy and return these books en masses. Made the books "bestsellers" I believe). Also, why should I, the person who ultimately funds this scheme, pay an author for a crappy book? I borrow books all the time that are crappy- and read maybe 20 pages before returning mostly unread. Would libraries allow the reader to deny payment for crappy books?

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-10-2007, 11:39 AM
You're right, I also expect publishers to figure out how to profit from e-books soon. And your analogy to movies and TV is apropos, because I expect the solution to e-book profitability will be the same thing that made TV profitable, namely, advertisements.

The interesting thing about how well TV ads worked, was that the shows never had a direct link to the products they sold... an advertiser attached their ads to a show, hoping to sell a lot of soap, but without much (or any) direct proof that their soap buyers were buying because they'd seen the ad on that particular show. In other words, the advertiser was really only paying for the priviledge of getting their ad to be seen by the most people, whether the product sold or not. But this nebulous system seemed to be good enough for TV, and it became a standard system.

With e-books, the same strategy could be taken. If the method is good enough for TV, it should be good enough for e-books. All it will take for advertisers to sign on is the guarantee that their ads will be seen by a significant number of the people they want to sell to, which will probably be technophiles, e-book readers, and those who obviously show an interest in whatever subject is featured in the e-book or e-mag they bought.

UncleDuke
08-10-2007, 11:53 AM
good analoy.

in the early days of tv the movie studios would have nothing to do with them. refused to provide product. only after tv knocked their socks off did they clammer to start producing shows for tv.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-10-2007, 12:04 PM
That scenario would be mirrored by a major publisher selling their product through a separate but established e-book publisher, who would in turn sell ads to offset cost of the product. It's very workable as a system.

JSWolf
08-10-2007, 12:08 PM
I've seen dead tree books with adverts in them for things other then other books. If ebooks have adverts, without the prices going down, then we need to riot.

Bob Russell
08-10-2007, 12:13 PM
I have to wonder, though, if TV is the right analogy. It's interesting and is relevant, But the TV model is already being disussed as passed it's time, and cable/direct distribution of content (dvds, broadband movies, social networks, etc). Microsoft wants to control your content through your PC, with hardware supported DRM. So I wonder, is the current TV really a good pattern for the future of books?

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-10-2007, 12:21 PM
Broadcast TV may be in the process of being replaced by satellite and cable, but the program/advertiser link is as strong as ever (and more pervasive, as evidenced by the annoying ads that are now projected along the bottom of the screen during programs). It's just going through a restructuring to deal with new elements like Tivo.

DVDs, broadband streaming, etc, are using the same basic selling methods, attaching ads to something you download, stream or buy, and in many cases making sure the content can't be viewed unless you sit through their ads. So the method is firmly entrenched, and jumping mediums as fast as a mosquito full of Barry Bonds' blood. ;)

Jon, you're right: I'd expect e-book ads to contribute to a lower cost of e-book, the same way it did for commercial VHS movies, for example. If not, and riot ensues, I'll bring the Molotov cocktails.

nekokami
08-10-2007, 12:28 PM
Advertisement support is what Wowio is using. Their books are free. The number of commercial titles is still somewhat limited, and some of what they have is stuff I've never heard of (I think they are the original publisher), but they do have some mainstream stuff published elsewhere. I think it's a worthwhile experiment. I just wish they had a format other than PDF -- it reads ok on the iLiad, but I think it's of limited use generally.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-10-2007, 04:18 PM
Here's another reason why advertising subsidizing e-books is good: Ads depend on more people seeing them.

E-books already are renowned for the fact that they can be shared, even pirated. That means more and more people who can see the e-book. But to an advertiser, that's a good thing... more people will see their ads! Sharing and pirating will actually be doing advertisers a favor! So advertisers can put an ad in an e-book, and expect more viewings than the number of people who actually buy a title, depending on the popularity (and availability) of the e-book.

This can also aid format standardization, because any advertiser is going to want to advertise in an e-book whose format is read by the most people.

It would be hoped that the ads would not be so annoying as some TV ads... maybe no worse than a banner ad on the beginning or end of every chapter would be acceptable to most readers, though clustering them in front or in back would, I'm sure, be preferable.

Jadon
08-10-2007, 05:03 PM
The interesting thing about how well TV ads worked, was that the shows never had a direct link to the products they sold...
Well, in the very early days, shows had single sponsors, so TV shows could have the name of a cigarette company or oil company in the actual title, and the stars of the show would do commercials in the course of an episode. Today you get product placement, sometimes far from subtle. Every episode of Kyle XY has ads for Sour Patch Kids, and one or more of the show's characters will mention the candy by name in every episode.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-10-2007, 05:11 PM
Every episode of Kyle XY has ads for Sour Patch Kids, and one or more of the show's characters will mention the candy by name in every episode.

Of all things... :rolleyes:

But yes, we've talked about product placement in these forums before... like James Bond so obviously drinking Smirnoff vodka and driving Aston Martins. We've even joked about writers like me doing the same things in our stories for an advertiser (I honestly don't remember saying if I'd actually do it, but I suppose for the right amount of money... :D).

Bottom line is, if the advertiser is willing to pay for it... and the author is willing to do it... why not?

JSWolf
08-11-2007, 08:43 AM
And if the reader is not willing to read it then doing it won't work.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-11-2007, 09:55 AM
And if the reader is not willing to read it then doing it won't work.

Think about it: You sit through previews before a movie. You sit through commercials before a TV show. You sit through advertisements before you can watch most DVDs. You sit through ads before watching a lot of streamed content on the internet (especially network material). And in exchange, you could be getting the book for free.

You already put up with something you're not interested in, to get to the content. I don't expect e-book ads to be any different, and if it became the norm, after awhile, you wouldn't think twice about ignoring and/or just forwarding past them, just as you do at movies, TV shows, DVDs and streamed content.

I'm not saying "I love ads." But let's face it: There may be no better revenue model to support e-books.

Bob Russell
08-11-2007, 10:49 AM
Ads may be coming for many kinds of books. Textbooks have had a lot of ad talk aroudn them, for example. And I don't really mind the ads in magazines, even as extreme as they are, on every other page. (But those subscription insert cards are another matter - very annoying, but they still use them because they are so successful.)

In a paperback book, we already see related book ads in the front and back. I could probably get used to ignoring an ad every 20 pages or so, if the text wasn't wrapped around it, or maybe even better if it was two facing page that could be turned past, so I don't have to see it while I'm reading. The point of a novel for me is to escape and enjoy. I don't want to read a page about a murder and have to see a funeral home ad on the opposing page. Fortunately ebooks might ease that situation, but eventually someone will create technology that keeps the ad on your screen.

So, what I'm saying, is that it could be good in principle. However in practice, I think it will get pushed too far, and it will be bad for readers because it will be pushed in our faces to the point where it's annoying because a bit of annoyance gets tolerated, and generates more revenue.

On the one hand, that does offer a niche opportunity for a kind and gentler publisher to go easy on the ads and make the reading experience pleasant.

But on the other hand, the big selling artists will end up with really intrusive ads because they know that they can get away with it -- people want so much to read that particular book that they well put up with all kinds of interference.

JSWolf
08-11-2007, 12:25 PM
All that will happen is people will buy books in a format they know they can strip out the adverts and do so. Then the adverts will no longer be an issue overall.

That or people won't buy the books.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-11-2007, 03:50 PM
All that will happen is people will buy books in a format they know they can strip out the adverts and do so. Then the adverts will no longer be an issue overall.

That or people won't buy the books.

Remember, we're hoping e-books will become a mainstream item. Mainstream people aren't going to strip the ads out of an e-book, anymore than they'll rip out the ads in a magazine before they read it.

You want an ad method that will be acceptable... in other words, ignorable if desired. Grouping the ads at the front or back will do that. Putting an ad banner at the bottom of an occasional chapter will do that. Product placement will also do that.

I wouldn't assume that ads placed in e-books will necessarily all be incredibly grating, and I also think that people will get used to them in whatever form they take. How much do you complain these days about watching a show, and seeing an animated ad for the next show, or next week's movie, running along the bottom of the screen?

People learn to tolerate a lot, when they want to see a show... they will tolerate a lot when they want to read a book, too. Look at how much we tolerate right now, with different formats, different readers, DRM, DRM-stripping, reformatting, converting... all because we want to read e-books. Tolerating an ad or three to get a free e-book is a no-brainer.

Edit: Since I started releasing my novels in LRF, I haven't heard any complaints about the ads in the back of them (for other of my books). They are ignored by those who don't care, and checked out by others who might want to read my books... their choice. That's how to do it.

JSWolf
08-11-2007, 04:11 PM
I do really dislike the adverts for other shows in the middle of watching whatever. And I really hate the faded logos. Whoever started that trend should be killed horribly and painfully. Like hung/drawn/quartered sounds really nice. Plus the network in question sould be forced out of business and all the assets given to the poor. And that means all the money the executives have in the bank as well.

You can't put an advert at the bottom of a page because you won't know the type size the reader will be using so the advert could end up anyplace on the page. Adverts at the end are fine. I can just close the book when I get there. At the beginning might not be too bad if I can get to the ToC ahead of the adverts. What I used to really hate was when books had adverts in the middle that caused to books to open to them because they were thicker paper then the main pages. Thankfully that's been done away with.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-11-2007, 04:35 PM
I do really dislike the adverts for other shows in the middle of watching whatever. And I really hate the faded logos. Whoever started that trend should be killed horribly and painfully. Like hung/drawn/quartered sounds really nice. Plus the network in question sould be forced out of business and all the assets given to the poor. And that means all the money the executives have in the bank as well.

Yes, but have you sworn off watching all shows or stations that use them? Most people (including myself) hate them as much as you, but we still watch.

You can't put an advert at the bottom of a page because you won't know the type size the reader will be using so the advert could end up anyplace on the page. Adverts at the end are fine. I can just close the book when I get there. At the beginning might not be too bad if I can get to the ToC ahead of the adverts. What I used to really hate was when books had adverts in the middle that caused to books to open to them because they were thicker paper then the main pages. Thankfully that's been done away with.

All good points. I agree, grouped in the front or back is best. I wouldn't want to see a banner ad at the bottom (or top) of a chapter (not the end of a page, but literally the last thing you see at the end of a chapter before the next one), but with e-books' similarity to web pages, I can see that as being considered an option.

But if I were a publisher, and an advertiser wanted to do that, I would make sure they paid a premium price for it!

Jadon
08-11-2007, 05:06 PM
grouped in the front or back is best.
If I knew that the first twenty pages of a book were ads, I'd just hold the page-forward button down until I got to actual book. Ads only work if it's not trivial to skip over them. We read magazines with ads. We use software with ads. We view websites with ads. Books aren't holy and special. If they had ads between chapters or every few thousand words, we'd ignore them like most other ads, and advertisers could pretend they were as effective as all the other ads we ignore other places.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-11-2007, 06:22 PM
Well-said.

HarryT
08-13-2007, 02:39 AM
Don't forget that all of Dickens' novels, for example, were originally published in weekly or monthly publications filled with ads. It used to be thought entirely normal to read novels in that way.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-13-2007, 10:23 AM
Yes... and before there were paperbacks there were the "pulps," cheap newsprint rags with original stories and ads sprinkled throughout. Those went in 2 directions, paperbacks, and story-based glossy magazines. (As I said earlier, it shows what people will get used to (put up with)... bad printing, ads, etc... to do something they want, namely, read books.

rupescissa
08-13-2007, 12:31 PM
E-books are no more than a niche market even after a decade of promises and predictions that they are the future of publishing. Sure, we read them, but in the real world e-books have many limitaions and annoyances that militate against their acceptance by the reading public. We all know what the problems are (incompatible formats; quirky, limited-capability, high-priced hardware; general inability to annotate; DRM; prices on a par with those of printed books; publishers' antipathy). To add advertising to this stinking mess could only be thinkable to a publisher.

There is no reason to think that the reading public will allow itself to be imposed on by ads in books--and certainly not before the main barriers I mentioned are obviated.

In my opinion, there is no market analogous to the book market. The broadcast TV analogy doesn't work, because TV shows were not owned, reusable objects, and because TV's were reatively easy to operate, for anybody. The iPod was successful because it built on an already-existing practice of music downloading and an already-existing file format (MP3).

No similar structures are in place in the book market (and a large percentage of the people literate enought to buy and read printed books in any appreciable quantity--including those employed in the publishing industry--are at least mildly technophobic).

There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed workably, universally and permanently, before e-books gain serious acceptance.

My $0.02!

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-13-2007, 02:05 PM
Most of what you point out is true. However, it should not be forgotten that advertisers would add an additional voice to the mix, and it could be the voice of reason (or authority) that straightens out many of the problems you mentioned.

Yes, the publishing industry has created most of these problems, mainly by dragging their own feet. Advertisers, by virtue of offering them money, would be in a position of kicking their tails and getting them going on deciding on compatible software formats, more reliable software and hardware, promotion, and selling and distribution models. After all, why spend money on something that doesn't work? And when has advertising ever held their mouths about how business should be done, especially when they are bankrolling it? Take a look at the magazine industry, for example, and it's clear how much the advertising industry has shaped it.

Don't forget that, unlike publishers, advertisers always listen to the customers, to see what they like and don't like. If it's clear that customers want a particular format, sold (or given away) in a specific way, the advertisers will make every effort to give the customer that, so their ads will end up in their thankful hands.

Again, advertisers have an advantage here: They can create a new market for their ads to be seen, and therefore more revenue for themselves. It's worth their while to step in, even if they do need to handhold the publishers to do it.

nekokami
08-13-2007, 03:10 PM
I think the closest parallel may be websites that are paid for by Google ads. I do see advertising as an interesting potential way to fund books. The trick would be to find a way to estimate "eyeballs" or the viewership audience, which is generally key to determining advertising rates and author/publisher compensation. TV in the US estimates this with viewership surveys. Newspapers and magazines publish their subscription and individual sales figures. Wowio does it by asking customers to subscribe to their site and only download their own books, not pass them around to others. Another idea would be to have a ping-back function in an ebook reader that would let the advertising service (e.g. Google Ads) know that the ad had been on the screen. Privacy concerns are likely to nix that one, but it would have the advantage of actually encouraging publishers to be sure their formats were open and easily transported, because they would want every work to be as widely distributed and viewed as possible.

I don't like television ads, to the point that yes, I actually have completely given up on commercial television, for over 10 years. But I tolerate print ads in magazines, etc., and in some magazines, I actually take time to read them, because they're relevant to the reason I'm reading the magazine, e.g. jewelry supply ads in my jewelry design magazines, or tech tool ads in MAKE.

When reading a fiction book, I wouldn't want anything to interrupt the flow of the story, but a banner or text ad at the end of a chapter would be fine, and if they advertised books or other works that I might like based on the current book, I think I'd even appreciate them.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-13-2007, 03:36 PM
The trick would be to find a way to estimate "eyeballs" or the viewership audience, which is generally key to determining advertising rates and author/publisher compensation.

Simply keeping track of downloads would accomplish that.

...it would have the advantage of actually encouraging publishers to be sure their formats were open and easily transported, because they would want every work to be as widely distributed and viewed as possible.

Give the girl a cheroot!

I don't like television ads, to the point that yes, I actually have completely given up on commercial television, for over 10 years. But I tolerate print ads in magazines, etc., and in some magazines, I actually take time to read them, because they're relevant to the reason I'm reading the magazine, e.g. jewelry supply ads in my jewelry design magazines, or tech tool ads in MAKE.

This is, of course, the key to successful advertising: Targeting. No one wants ads to things they don't want... but everyone will tolerate ads for things they do want. So, no, I don't want to find an ad for a Jaguar in an Indiana Jones novel... but I might like an ad for a Jeep. As well as an ad for the next movie, or a cool fedora hat.

Advertisers know this, and generally get pretty good at targeting ads to the audience, so that you don't go away mad, you go out and buy something.

nekokami
08-13-2007, 03:55 PM
See, the difference between tracking downloads and having a ping-back system is that with the downloads, the publishers are still tempted to lock the books into DRM format, and limit access to "authorized" downloaders (Wowio is only available to US residents), whereas with a ping-back system, the publisher would be happy to let anyone forward content to anyone -- use peer-to-peer, newsgroups, IRC, post it on your website, email it to all your friends-- whatever, because the more widely the file is distributed, the more likely it would be to be viewed and hence generate advertising revenue.

I think the dotReader folks could implement this fairly easily, and it would fund their development/porting efforts so they could make their reader available on many more platforms, more quickly.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-13-2007, 04:14 PM
See, the difference between tracking downloads and having a ping-back system is that with the downloads, the publishers are still tempted to lock the books into DRM format, and limit access to "authorized" downloaders (Wowio is only available to US residents), whereas with a ping-back system, the publisher would be happy to let anyone forward content to anyone -- use peer-to-peer, newsgroups, IRC, post it on your website, email it to all your friends-- whatever, because the more widely the file is distributed, the more likely it would be to be viewed and hence generate advertising revenue.

Well, yes, if they wanted to be that anal about it, they could use a ping-back system and keep track of every time an e-book moved from place to place... but that would be tempting many more privacy issues. It might also be subject to being made inaccurate through hacking to remove the ping-back.

However, if they simply allow the downloads, they can base prices off of a simple-to-calculate download figure, and consider any additional distribution to be free icing on the cake. And if the advertising makes the e-book free, they are guaranteed the maximum likely downloads and additional distribution. The publisher doesn't have to concern themselves about where the book ended up (much harder to keep track of), because they've already been paid by the advertisers.

nekokami
08-13-2007, 04:17 PM
Works for me, but I think a flowable format would work better. Maybe DE will save the day.

Publishers might prefer being able to charge the higher advertising rate, though. And again, I'd like to encourage them to keep the format as open and supported as possible, which would work better if they can charge more for files that people willingly pass around. ;)

Liviu_5
08-13-2007, 04:38 PM
With all due respect, I do not see an ad model for e-books as viable as long as the ads are embedded in the books. The money are not there for that.

I bought quite a few ebooks, mostly magazines like Aeon, Asimov's, SFF, but also author collections of short stories, which have quite a few ads in them, and actually some of those adds made me buy more ebooks since they were ads for some of these collections by authors appearing in the respective issue, or by similar authors. But the market for such is quite limited and incidentally all those ebooks were not free, reasonably priced with no drm yes, but not free.

Wovio is just a publicity stunt in my opinion and is going to stay limited at a few titles here and there, but as a model for large scale ebook selling I think it is DOA.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-13-2007, 05:53 PM
I'm not sure how well advertisers would go for ping-back. The problem with it is, they really have no way of knowing whether a book copied to a PC, a PDA, a second PC (maybe at work) and a smartphone are being seen by "different sets of eyes"... those could all be my computers. An advertiser wouldn't want to feel they are being charged for more people than are seeing their ads. With a per-download pricing, they know exactly what they are paying for. And if others see their ads through sharing, they are actually saving money.

Publishers may not like it that way, but on the other hand, by the point that advertisers bail them out, they've lost the right to argue about it.

Again, if advertisers were subsidizing to the extent that the books were free, no proprietary formats or DRM would be needed, in fact, would work counter to what the advertisers wanted... maximum viewings. So I'm sure they would encourage a good all-around freely-available format. ePub might be just the ticket for them because e-readers can be designed to convert it themselves, or it can be converted to any other format as needed.

nekokami
08-13-2007, 09:25 PM
I was thinking a ping-back when the reader gets to the page the ad is on, not just when the whole file is open, so it wouldn't matter if one person were reading the same file on multiple devices. That would also encourage publishers to actually publish good content, i.e. content worth reading through to the end. Or even content worth reading more than once! :D

sea2stars
08-13-2007, 10:47 PM
hrm... late to the thread, but I'm not sure if the web or TV analogies work.

How many of you have web ad-blocking software that comes with your computer/ISP/browser?

Publishers, in this digital age, are concerned with keeping control of their content. How has the TV/Cable/Sat industry and freaked out advertisers reacted to Tivo and, in my case, home built HTPC (Home Theater PC) users "timeshifting"? They're trying to make it so people can't record their content, through the use of broadcast flags, and as a side benefit force people to watch their Ads. Take the Nielsen ratings for example. They're no where near as accurate as they once were; with people using their DVRs to watch shows at their convenience. Hrmm.. at least Nielsen is purely volunteer. A ping-back ad system sounds like a huge invasion of personal privacy to me. Well.. Sony has been known for their rootkits.

TV, web, books, and magazines are all very standard vehicles for putting ads into. As for ebooks, I can see ads maybe helping to lower the cost of ebooks and readers, but I think we'll be with DRM and ebabel for some time.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 07:39 AM
Ah... I wasn't following, I thought you were referring to ping-backs on the e-books themselves... not the ads!

I get you, now, but there's one thing: E-books won't necessarily be read on online devices, so you can't depend on ping-backs to pass information along. Some readers, say, smartphones, may be able to handle an interactive ad, but a device like the Sony Reader being used away from its computer connection won't be able to click-through to the site. And some e-book software won't be able to handle links (I suppose that will be decided by whichever combo of hardware and software becomes popular.)

E-book ads won't necessarily be interactive like banner ads... they may just look like them due to the digital display similarities. Given the size of many e-book readers' screens, most advertisers will probably opt for full-page ads anyway.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 08:00 AM
How many of you have web ad-blocking software that comes with your computer/ISP/browser?

That's true. However, I've noticed that to access some internet content, you sometimes have to reset ad blockers to accept javascript, and you get the ads anyway. And some ads simply don't get blocked.

Publishers, in this digital age, are concerned with keeping control of their content.

Sure they are. On the other hand, the book and magazine industry is declining in sales, and the e-book industry hasn't taken off. Maybe that's a sign of too much effort put into control, and not enough into sales and marketing. The publishing industry is not doing too well as an industry, by refusing to enter the 21st century.

How has the TV/Cable/Sat industry and freaked out advertisers reacted to Tivo and, in my case, home built HTPC (Home Theater PC) users "timeshifting"? They're trying to make it so people can't record their content, through the use of broadcast flags, and as a side benefit force people to watch their Ads.

But the key is, they are making an effort and adapting to the new technology, as opposed to publishers' sticking their heads in the sand and acting like it doesn't exist.

If advertisers listened to the movie industries' slogan "Movies are your best entertainment," and had not taken a chance on the new medium of television, we might be like countries with 2-3 state-sponsored stations, and that's it. (We won't debate whether what we have now is much better... ;) )

Advertisers have a great opportunity to take advantage of a new medium that apparently cannot manage to orient or sustain itself without outside funds and guidance, and which has the potential to reach everyone in the country that has an electronic device of some sort, even if it's just a cellphone... and that's a big market. Being able to groom the delivery medium to best deliver your content to all those people... that makes good business sense.

Sure, people will develop ad-blockers, if the ads are too pervasive, but many people will see them regardless... not everybody goes through the trouble of blocking ads, they just ignore them. And, like I said before, if the ad is well-targeted to the consumer, they won't object to the ads at all.

HarryT
08-14-2007, 09:44 AM
If advertisers listened to the movie industries' slogan "Movies are your best entertainment," and had not taken a chance on the new medium of television, we might be like countries with 2-3 state-sponsored stations, and that's it. (We won't debate whether what we have now is much better... ;) )

Just for interest, IMHO the two taxpayer-funded, ad-free, terrestrial BBC TV channels here in the UK have 10x more "worthwhile" content on them than the 200+ crappy commercial stations I can also receive via satellite :). The enormous benefit the BBC has is that, because it doesn't have to make a profit and is funded by the taxpayer, it's able to make programmes which wouldn't be commercial viable for a broadcaster which has to make a profit - "costume dramas" and so on.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 09:58 AM
Like I said, I didn't want to get into a quality debate (in the U.S., we get some great non-commercial material through PBS, too). My point was only about quantity, as in "Look at how much advertiser-subsidized TV content there is." Quantity gives you variety... more subjects, more artists, more viewpoints. More for the public to enjoy (or at least have access to).

HarryT
08-14-2007, 10:07 AM
Indeed, yes. My only point is that "more" does not necessarily equate to "better" :).

sea2stars
08-14-2007, 10:10 AM
But the key is, they are making an effort and adapting to the new technology, as opposed to publishers' sticking their heads in the sand and acting like it doesn't exist.


I think you missed my point. Like the majority of media publishers(TV, web, etc), they aren't trying to adapt to new technology. They're doing their best to block and avoid dealing with it. They've already lobbied the FCC to deny people the ability to record digital content and thankfully, for now, it was tossed out in appeals court. Cable companies have fought against the use of CableCARDs for years now. They know that their customers are demanding more digital content, but unless it's on their terms and under their thumb they'll continue to drag their feet. How many digital projection system exist in the US?

I agree that advertisers should get involved. I'm just not sure how they could help guide the industry into a more cohesive form; with all of the available proprietary formats and devices. It's not like mp3 players, or VHS vs Beta Max, or Bluray vs HD DVD, or cable vs satellite. Eh. Maybe if they helped Sony, Bookean and Amazon to better market ebooks and readers in the first place then that might be a start.

Hah. Maybe they should start simple and design their own eink readers and start with bathrooms first; nothing like a captive audience.

nekokami
08-14-2007, 10:51 AM
I get you, now, but there's one thing: E-books won't necessarily be read on online devices, so you can't depend on ping-backs to pass information along. Some readers, say, smartphones, may be able to handle an interactive ad, but a device like the Sony Reader being used away from its computer connection won't be able to click-through to the site. And some e-book software won't be able to handle links (I suppose that will be decided by whichever combo of hardware and software becomes popular.)
I was thinking that a device like the Reader could save up the pings and send them when it was next online to get more books. Sure, people could defeat this system if they were especially concerned, but why bother? Another advantage is that this would track the ads, not the book content, which might help consumers feel better from a privacy perspective. I think it would depend on how much information was being collected (I think very little would be needed).

Regarding ad blockers-- note that they don't work on text ads. :) This would encourage advertisers to keep their ads minimalist -- less annoying, and potentially more informative. I would still hope that most ads in fiction would be for other fiction by the same or similar authors. Click-through ads would be good, too, and again, an offline system could just save them up and click you through next time you're connected.

If I had the time (and the programming skills, but that amounts to the same thing in my case), I'd set up a system like this myself and try to get some authors interested, using Google Ads.

rupescissa
08-14-2007, 10:53 AM
I am unable to understand why anybody, other than a publisher, would ever advocate advertising inside of an e-book--especially ads that "ping back" to advertisers to let them know when the reader has reached a certain part of a book or seen a certain ad.

Are we so desparate to have our hobby, or pet reading method, attain wider approval that we would put up with advertising inside of a book? Or is it that we want advertisers to play the role of the guys in the white hats and come in and fix the pervasive confusion in the e-book martketplace?

Books and internal advertising do not go together. We accept ads in movie theaters, on TV, and on radio, because that's the way these media developed. There were ads on radio almost from the beginning. Even publically-funded broadcasts carry ads (for other public programs). We accept that because we're used to it. We don't accept ads inside the track order of CD's because we paid for the objects and the track selection and would not tolerate an interruption of the flow of music.

A book is an extended work of human discourse. Book reading is a private, solitary mental interaction with this extended work of human discourse. To invite advertisers into that space is to devalue the space, the reading experience, and the rightful expectation of freedom from commercial (or political) intrusion or interruption. Books don't have ads--and never have--except for low-end mass-market paperbacks, and they have ads outside of the actual reading space.

Let's not ask for commercial interests that have no interest on our personal pleasure, learning or thinking for "help" of any kind.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 10:54 AM
Indeed, yes. My only point is that "more" does not necessarily equate to "better" :).

Can't argue with that. Won't argue with that. (I'm still making the effort to stay on the "better" side of the line!)

I think you missed my point. Like the majority of media publishers(TV, web, etc), they aren't trying to adapt to new technology. They're doing their best to block and avoid dealing with it.

But that is exactly my point: Knowing this is the case, advertisers need to step in, to make the tough choices for the publishers and force them to deal with the new technology.

I agree that advertisers should get involved. I'm just not sure how they could help guide the industry into a more cohesive form; with all of the available proprietary formats and devices. It's not like mp3 players, or VHS vs Beta Max, or Bluray vs HD DVD, or cable vs satellite. Eh. Maybe if they helped Sony, Bookean and Amazon to better market ebooks and readers in the first place then that might be a start.

It really doesn't matter which combination of formats and players they pick... just so they pick one, and get everyone to run with it. Granted, hopefully it'll be something closer to ePub than "Fred's personal e-book reader dingus," especially since something like ePub can be converted to other formats by the user, it is based on open standards and not proprietary at all.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 10:57 AM
I am unable to understand why anybody, other than a publisher, would ever advocate advertising inside of an e-book... is it that we want advertisers to play the role of the guys in the white hats and come in and fix the pervasive confusion in the e-book martketplace?

Well... yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell.

Let's not ask for commercial interests that have no interest on our personal pleasure, learning or thinking for "help" of any kind.

I'm sorry... were we talking about advertisers, or publishers? ;)

JSWolf
08-14-2007, 10:58 AM
I think you missed my point. Like the majority of media publishers(TV, web, etc), they aren't trying to adapt to new technology. They're doing their best to block and avoid dealing with it. They've already lobbied the FCC to deny people the ability to record digital content and thankfully, for now, it was tossed out in appeals court. Cable companies have fought against the use of CableCARDs for years now. They know that their customers are demanding more digital content, but unless it's on their terms and under their thumb they'll continue to drag their feet. How many digital projection system exist in the US?

I agree that advertisers should get involved. I'm just not sure how they could help guide the industry into a more cohesive form; with all of the available proprietary formats and devices. It's not like mp3 players, or VHS vs Beta Max, or Bluray vs HD DVD, or cable vs satellite.
Advertisers can say what they want with their money. If they got together and said ... "If you put digital protection on your digital stream, we will not advertise" the network would have to cave in. Could you imagine a network that has no advertising dollars coming in? They'd cave like you would not believe. Money speaks louder then words.

nekokami
08-14-2007, 11:01 AM
rupescissa, I'd rather have books with ads in than no new books at all. Authors might write books even if they can't get paid, but I don't want to count on it. Publishers won't pay authors unless they have a revenue stream from which to make the payments. Publishers are currently leaning toward locked DRM formats to ensure that revenue stream, which I think are a very bad idea. Personally, I'd rather see publishers take the Baen route and publish books in open formats at reasonable prices, but if some publishers won't go that way, then other ways to encourage open formats are worth looking into. Paying for content via advertising is one. It's a thought experiment at this point. What's your suggestion?

rupescissa
08-14-2007, 04:39 PM
nekokami, in a thought experiment, the sceptic's role is to press the experiment and check the thought for weak spots, not to propose alternatives. (It's good to be the sceptic!)

My argument here is 1.) that the analogy that compares the e-book market to early tv is not a good one; 2.) that advertising and book-reading don't go together; 3.) that it is wishful thinking to believe that advertisers could ever somehow force book publishers--who do not now rely on advertising revenue--to come to terms on the confused mess that is e-book publishing. To imply that my arguments are invalid because I do not make alternative proposals is not a refutation.

Authors can continue to get paid in the usual way: by having books printed and sold. Authors are in no danger just because the e-book market is virtually non-existent. E-book readers, of which I am one, are mainly enthusiasts and hobbyists, or people who travel a lot, or people who live away from their home countries and desire convenient access to familiar reading material. Outside of those niche markets there is virtually no clamor for e-books.

I think the future growth of the e-book market depends on the ability of book publishers and e-book manufacturers to better identify exactly which segments of the reading public they want to reach. The term "books" covers a lot of territory. Do publishers want to sell fiction/journalism/how-to bestsellers, text books, comics, scholarly works, art books? Each type of book has different characteristics, and works best presented in a different type of format. (For example the Sony PRS-500 is useless for reading footnoted material.) Just saying "I want" this and that and quibbling about where the page-advance buttons are located isn't going to create a market. There isn't going to be a killer app. No iPod-analog is going to save the day. This is way bigger than the file format question.

Books are one of the oldest media and have developed an enormously complex variety of types and uses and users. Just because they all have covers, pages and spines doesn't mean they're all alike. One size ain't gonna fit all.

nekokami
08-14-2007, 05:48 PM
My argument here is 1.) that the analogy that compares the e-book market to early tv is not a good one; 2.) that advertising and book-reading don't go together; 3.) that it is wishful thinking to believe that advertisers could ever somehow force book publishers--who do not now rely on advertising revenue--to come to terms on the confused mess that is e-book publishing. To imply that my arguments are invalid because I do not make alternative proposals is not a refutation.
It's a thoughtful response, and deserves an equally thoughtful acknowledgment.

1) You may be right that the analogy to early TV is not a good one. I don't lean heavily on this analogy myself. I prefer to look at early print publishing (e.g. serial publications) and contemporary web publishing.

2) I disagree, because historically they have sometimes gone together, e.g. serials, and for that matter, ads in the back of existing books. There might be many readers who would find it jarring to have an advertisement placed within the text of a book, e.g. at the end of a chapter, but without some kind of study or at least a poll, I don't think either of us can say what proportion of readers would accept this, especially in free books, vs. those who would not. (Of course, if you have such a study to reference, I'd be happy to hear about it.)

3) Existing book publishers may not want to consider this kind of revenue source. However, there is no reason to believe that they will be the major publishers in the future. Technology changes often cause a shake-up in publishing markets. As portable electronic devices become common, the way in which people read-- and what they read, is likely to change. It may be that if books don't adapt to these kinds of devices, book reading will become even less common than it is already.

Again, without some kind of study on which to base a conclusion, we're all just shooting in the dark here. But anecdotally, I can tell you that my kids are much more likely to read on the screen than I am, and my 13-year-old daughter, when I loaned her my eBookwise 1150, primarily wanted to know how to download fanfiction so she could carry it around. She reads these documents on a screen now, with ads. That's most of what she reads, and she spends hours every day doing it.

You are correct that failing to provide alternative proposals is not a refutation of your points, of course, whether or not I agree with your points. However, I still believe there are problems approaching with the current publishing systems. You may not agree, and even if you agree, you may feel no obligation to propose alternative solutions to these upcoming problems. I personally feel that contributions to discussions which only criticize or find weaknesses in another's suggestions, as opposed to also making constructive suggestions, are a bit one-sided, but that's just my style, I guess.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 10:20 PM
I feel I might have done a disservice to this thread by suggesting the idea of a "banner ad at every chapter head or end." Clearly, this would represent a "worst case" advertising method, as we all agree.

However, in all fairness, this would be the least likely way to advertise in a book, because:


Every book is different, with different chapters and/or breaks;
It would be too much trouble to insert an ad at every chapter/break;
A different number of ads for every book would be much harder to keep track of;
It would be far easier to insert ads at the beginning or end of the novel (every novel has one of each, in the same place every time).

So I think we can all rest assured that we're not likely to see that ad method. Besides, any publisher that actually tried it would be attacked faster than Disney after the "limited-run DVD" fiasco.

Neko is right about something else: If existing publishers refuse to try something new, they may find new and independent publishers picking up the slack, and taking off with the e-book market. Advertisers can always pass on the old guard publishers, and go to the independents looking for a break (and therefore ready to experiment, even on the advertisers' terms). Wowio could be the model of e-books' future.

JSWolf
08-14-2007, 10:26 PM
I hope not. I think Wowio needs to come up with a format that we can actually enjoy. This locked PDF type format is just really bad. I for one really dislike it. Wowio can just go away if they can't do it right.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-14-2007, 10:31 PM
Well, okay, if they could convert to ePub, it'd be perfect.

JSWolf
08-14-2007, 10:34 PM
Well, okay, if they could convert to ePub, it'd be perfect.
Of all the book formats available they pick the one of the worst ones.

I see how they need to have DRM as they insert your name and some lame advert. If they didn't have DRM, we'd just strip out the mess.

But if you get a book from them that's just text, you can use PDF2LRF to make an LRF copy as long as you don't mind the header/footer info in there. Or you can use pdftohtml and then edit out that stuff and make it a good book.

wgrimm
08-15-2007, 08:30 AM
Authors can continue to get paid in the usual way: by having books printed and sold. Authors are in no danger just because the e-book market is virtually non-existent. E-book readers, of which I am one, are mainly enthusiasts and hobbyists, or people who travel a lot, or people who live away from their home countries and desire convenient access to familiar reading material. Outside of those niche markets there is virtually no clamor for e-books.




One of the reasons that there is not much of an ebook market is because the market has not been developed. One excellent ebook market would be the one for textbooks. I was always surprised that Rocket/GEM never tried ith this. Using ebooks instead of paper books could save everyone a tremendous amount of money, making new releases easier to distribute, etc. And the market for textbooks exists from 1st grade to postgrad studies. China is taking the concept very seriously- but we're not.

Portable technical documentation is another area where ebook readers excel. Much easier to carry a small reader around than a sackful of books or a knapsack full of notebooks.

No market for ebooks? I read all sorts of material on my PalmPilot while in waiting rooms, on shopping trips, even at boring meetings. Ereader.com seems to have developed a good market for ebooks for the PalmPilot.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 08:42 AM
The producers of educational textbooks are apparently even less willing to alter their lucrative system than commercial publishers. Selling a bunch of honking-big books to students every single year, to the tune of hundreds to thousands a year each, is too profitable to mess with.

Yes, we have any number of dedicated readers (and laptops) that can be used as readers, and I'm sure companies have made efforts to try it. The fault is with the publishers on this, too.

This alone would represent a massive market. Ask any kid lugging around a backpack full of books... or their parents, looking forward to chiropractic bills in the future... and they'll tell you, they'd love e-textbooks. Problem is, no marketing has been done, so few of them even know such a thing is possible.

NatCh
08-15-2007, 09:00 AM
There have been rumors of textbook companies being very interested in e-books mentioned here a few times over the past year, but I'm sure I'd never be able to find them. :sad:

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 09:09 AM
Yeah, problem is they rarely get beyond rumor stages. Even if the rumors are coming from the textbook makers themselves, I'm sure the accountants in the back are telling them, "Are you crazy? Our books will all be pirated... we won't make a dime... we'll all be out of jobs! Shut up about that e-book stuff!"

Like commercial publishers, those guys'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

nekokami
08-15-2007, 09:18 AM
There was supposedly a trial in the Netherlands. Did anyone hear how that turned out?

I'd rather NOT have advertising in kids' textbooks. Commercial cable channels in the classrooms and "Pepsi Appreciation Days" in the US schools are bad enough.

rupescissa
08-15-2007, 10:39 AM
As regards textbooks and tech manuals in e- format: no current readers are adequate for textbook reading. Either displays are too small, or there is no method for getting to a certain page, or there is no easy method for going to footnotes, back-of-the-book reference sections, sidebars and the like, and then getting back to where you were. Most textbooks are in large page formats, printed in color and designed for ease of navigation. No e-reader can accommodate that. No e-reader allows for easy page-marking or underlining. An e-reader for textbooks and manuals has to be a specialized device. The Sony, the Rocket and its descendents and PDAs are not up to the job, and a laptop isn't an e-book reader.

As regards there being little or no market for e-books: it's the truth. We are the exception. We put up with tiny screens, file conversions and the like. Our wants and habits do not project into the wants and habits--and degree of toleration of shortcomings--in the general reading public.

I agree with nikokami that publishing, and the market, will evolve to accommodate e-reading, but current hardware, current formats, current commercial models and current DRM practices are not even remotely adequate. I know this sounds really negative, but these are the facts. Very few people (="nobody") are interested. It's not because they don't know how much great stuff is already out there. It's because the market is a confused mess.

Earlier models don't apply. Books are uniquely varied in ways neither we, nor the publishers, nor the hardware designers have yet noticed or acknowledged.

nekokami
08-15-2007, 10:57 AM
I agree about the limits of current ebook readers for textbooks. I'm still waiting to see what the OLPC looks like-- it may be a good device for this purpose.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 11:33 AM
As regards there being little or no market for e-books: it's the truth. We are the exception. We put up with tiny screens, file conversions and the like. Our wants and habits do not project into the wants and habits--and degree of toleration of shortcomings--in the general reading public...

Earlier models don't apply. Books are uniquely varied in ways neither we, nor the publishers, nor the hardware designers have yet noticed or acknowledged.

You might need to tell the Japanese (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12733) that...

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 11:40 AM
As regards textbooks and tech manuals in e- format: no current readers are adequate for textbook reading. Either displays are too small, or there is no method for getting to a certain page, or there is no easy method for going to footnotes, back-of-the-book reference sections, sidebars and the like, and then getting back to where you were. Most textbooks are in large page formats, printed in color and designed for ease of navigation. No e-reader can accommodate that. No e-reader allows for easy page-marking or underlining. An e-reader for textbooks and manuals has to be a specialized device. The Sony, the Rocket and its descendents and PDAs are not up to the job, and a laptop isn't an e-book reader.

Actually, laptops could do the job for textbooks just fine, because they can handle PDFs: Scalable, full-color, capable of being bookmarked, highlighted, searched, and linked. PDFs may not be good for small-footprint text-only e-readers, but for color textbooks, they're already optimised for it.

Add Cleartype to the laptop, to make text reading easier on the eyes, and you're set.

sea2stars
08-15-2007, 12:32 PM
I've read large PDFs on Tablet PCs before and they're great for the task; closer to an ereader.

Yeah. The market is confused. Is there even a leader pointing the way? How many of you have seen a Sony Reader ad out there? I haven't yet.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 03:02 PM
Sony's mainstream ads have been very few and far between. An ad recently appeared in the New York Times... in USA Today before Mother's Day... and another I remember being mentioned, but which I cannot find now.

I really have come to the conclusion that Sony does not expect the reader to become a mainstream device. They promote it among techies (see this thread (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7655)), but not to John and Jane Q. Public. Makes you wonder what they were thinking when they developed the thing...

Likewise, the Connect Store seems more of a favor to the techies who bought the reader, rather than a site to entice newbies, and thereby sell more readers... iTunes it ain't.

sea2stars
08-15-2007, 04:21 PM
Wonderful. So you're saying that Sony gets more advertising here, for free, than they bother with elsewhere? I guess when you're taking a huge loss on the PS3, to make up for it in game sales, you need to focus on where your advertising dollars are going.

NatCh
08-15-2007, 04:51 PM
You could look at it that way, or you could see it as we're all helping ourselves and each other use our new toys to a greater extent than Sony may have dreamed, and if it happens that Sony gets good, free publicity out of it, then it really doesn't hurt us any. :shrug:

The most effective marketing campaigns have always been word of mouth, the fact that they're usually also the cheapest doesn't really amount to much, since they're also usually the hardest to pull off on purpose. :smug2:

sea2stars
08-15-2007, 05:16 PM
True. Sony, and other companies, are lucky that there's a great community like this supporting its product. It would just be nice to know that they take the Reader seriously, embrace it and have the vision to move forward with it. Otherwise Fictionwise might have another ereader to offer in the future. Hrmm. A win-win situation I guess.

Then again, I can't complain. I got a great deal on the Reader. Which I learned about here of course.

True. The ipod was initially deemed a failure by industry, until word of mouth started spreading. Then Apple latched onto the white headphone icon in its advertising.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-15-2007, 05:32 PM
The most effective marketing campaigns have always been word of mouth, the fact that they're usually also the cheapest doesn't really amount to much, since they're also usually the hardest to pull off on purpose. :smug2:

I can attest to that! ;)

But in fact, if the reader is a huge success on this site, it still doesn't amount to a drop in the bucket to Sony (any more than selling to everyone on this site would allow me to quit my day job). If it doesn't spread significantly beyond that, it effectively goes nowhere.

yvanleterrible
08-16-2007, 09:02 AM
After reading this thread in one shot and stopping to think of it for a while, a list of ideas evolved in my twisted commercial mind, from the excellent ones that were previously enumerated.

If Apple just added the ebook to iTunes and a software patch to the screened devices, that would signify instant success.



There is a controversial form of advertisement that exists in movies that wouldn't bother me in the right context. Product placement. You know, where you see an 'X' brand of soft drink in the hands of an actor?
Well this idea in an ebook could be workable because of the ease of use the electronic format allows. Here's an example:
"Mac Bingham got out of his office, down to the street and unlocked the doors of his Corvette..."
Simple and easy, but the nice thing for sponsors is that depending on the crowd this advertising is meant to, they can just switch the name of the product. Depending also on the crowd, many sponsors of different markets could pitch in. Further in time sponsors could change too, again due to the e format. And in the copies meant for libraries and cultural preservation, the product names can just be omitted. This form of advertising could mean price breaks for the reading public and work for burgeoning writers.


If we use pages for advertising at the beginning or end of a book, the only products I would allow would have to be related to ebooks. Examples: Other books, computers, readers, related software, book stores and charity work, just as advertising is specialized in trade magazines.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-16-2007, 09:43 AM
Yvan,
Interesting idea about the iPods! I understand most of the screened devices can read text files now, so dedicated e-book SW isn't out of the question.

The malleable product placement idea is interesting, too, although as a writer, I might object to the connotations to a character changing because of changes to a product... in other words, James Bond isn't the same character when his Aston Martin is replaced with a Fiesta. Although I favor product placement as an advertising method, those products usually say something specific about the character involved, and I'm not sure that being able to change products will do the character, or the story, any good.

Remember, the advertiser only has to pay for the book once. Let his product stay there as long as the book is there.

Ads at the beginning or (preferably) end of a book can, I think, be related to any product the reader of that particular book might be interested in. If it's a cyberpunk book, computer hardware and games... If there's a sophisticated hero, Brooks Brothers suits and Razrs... If there's a sexy heroine, Victoria's Secret and Cover Girl... If there's an artist, painting supplies and Wacom Tablets... whatever. Of course, other books (and DVDs) about similar stories and characters. I personally wouldn't have a problem reading a sci-fi e-book and seeing ads for the DVD collections of Galactica and Babylon 5. And those would be things I'd likely buy, with the money I saved by getting FREE e-books! :D

yvanleterrible
08-16-2007, 10:47 AM
The changing of name placement could be done under contract for a finite time limit. The fact that the book is written for electronic format would be perfect for that. Imagine you're a startup writer and all you can find as a sponsor is, for instance, your uncle's corner library. If the contract was defined for let's say two years at the end of which you renegociate, if your books are any good, you could negociate for a higher stake or even go to a bigger, richer company for a still higher price. That could be rewarding! Then all changes could be done to the book in a matter of minutes. In reverse though a sponsor could get a reduction, that's good for them but let's not go there. :grin:

Hey we have ebooks now, read: flexible, plastic, mobile format and content, let's use new ways of using those to the hilt! It is now that we have to find new uses. If we have now chosen to change the way we read, we should now change the way books are marketed and publicized.

nekokami
08-16-2007, 11:47 AM
I'm not keen on product placement to begin with, and I really shudder at the idea of the text changing to serve the needs of advertisers. (Did anyone here see the movie "The Trueman Show"?) We may end up with this, just as we may end up with content that self-censors if it thinks the reader is underage or in a country with repressive content laws, but I'm not looking forward to it. I'd prefer to keep advertising and content separate.

Customizing the ads based on the content or the customer preferences/profile would be fine, though, as long as the ads are separate from the content.

yvanleterrible
08-16-2007, 12:09 PM
Well I'm not against it as long as an official preservation copy is instituted.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-16-2007, 12:49 PM
(Did anyone here see the movie "The Trueman Show"?)

Yeah, I remember The Truman Show... whenever I'm walking down the street, and I see someone who looks uncannily like someone I passed ten blocks ago, I get this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach...

Regarding product placement, if the arrangements are done ahead of time ("So, Mr. Jordan, if you can just have your hero show a preference for Lexus autos..."), and it works in context of the character/situation ("Dude... no one drives Lexus automobiles on Proxima Centauri!"), I'm okay with it. Changing that product later would be verboten if it changed the context of the story/character/situation in the slightest. I'm not going to rewrite a story to explain why a hard-nosed character likes to eat at Wendy's...

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-16-2007, 12:57 PM
This actually reminds me of the latest in revisionist entertainment, where movies are edited to remove smoking among the characters. If you see a movie that features a product that has since lost its charm, that's no reason to airbrush it out. Consider it part of history, back when we all thought it was cool to smoke like chimneys, and move on.

Likewise, no one should be making an effort to replace the Edsel in an old movie with a Chrysler. We're not talking The Truman Show here, we're talking 1984.

nekokami
08-16-2007, 05:56 PM
I have mixed feelings about the issue of smoking in movies. There's actually some reasonable research supporting the concern that teens watching smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking than teens who haven't (though apparently anti-smoking notices shown before the start of the film can mitigate this). This doesn't apply to older films, as they aren't shown in theaters (I'm not sure if the research around smoking on TV is the same), and even the organizations pushing for banning smoking in new films have no problems with exceptions for historical films about people who actually smoked (Churchill is the usually cited example, but Ed Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck is another --I guess they aren't worried about teens watching films about Churchill and Murrow anyway!)

And I haven't seen any research saying anyone is more likely to take up smoking after reading about a character smoking, so I guess it's irrelevant to books anyway.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-16-2007, 06:32 PM
Smoking is one of those unfortunate products, being popular before anyone realized how bad it was for you. If it was no worse than eating a candy bar, the movie stars would still be lighting up on-screen now.

There is more than enough evidence that any product used by a character that a viewer positively identifies with becomes desirable... that's why advertising works particularly well with models, sports figures and entertainers. The visual element is also established to be the most powerful of tools, which is why they work so well with TV and movies.

A novel has to be written well to create the "visual cues" in the reader's mind that will link a product to them, but it's doable. Beyond that, simply placing targeted ads in the book somewhere usually suffices.

NatCh
08-17-2007, 10:30 AM
I guess they aren't worried about teens watching films about Churchill and Murrow anyway!Generally speaking, teens equate anything "not brand new" with "uncool" anyway. So I wonder if we might see a decrease in teen smoking from making them watch such films as Casablanca. :grin2:

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-17-2007, 12:00 PM
Here's a thought: Let's get some e-book readers into the product placement cycle! Get Will Smith to use one in his next movie... Show Lindsay Lohan studying with it! Let product placement sell the readers, then we can put regular ads in the back of the e-books without product placement.

yvanleterrible
08-17-2007, 12:03 PM
Believe me unless they're gullible, there's nothing to do with teenagers, they educate themselves to what they want, whatever you think. Fortunately they come back to you as adults and all that subliminal education (good example you set) shows through. Don't give up but just don't expect immediate results.

Steven Lyle Jordan
08-17-2007, 01:27 PM
Believe me unless they're gullible, there's nothing to do with teenagers, they educate themselves to what they want, whatever you think.

Sure, but they don't operate in a vaccuum. And "education" too-often stops at surface considerations like "cool factor" and peer popularity. That's why advertising works particularly well on them, and why there's so much c**p out there for them to buy. As consumers get older, the amount of silly bells and whistles on their products drops off considerably, because older consumers are more discerning than that.

But I didn't mean for this to come out like teen-bashing, so I'm going to stop there.

yvanleterrible
08-17-2007, 03:38 PM
Sure, but they don't operate in a vaccuum. And "education" too-often stops at surface considerations like "cool factor" and peer popularity. That's why advertising works particularly well on them, and why there's so much c**p out there for them to buy. As consumers get older, the amount of silly bells and whistles on their products drops off considerably, because older consumers are more discerning than that.

But I didn't mean for this to come out like teen-bashing, so I'm going to stop there.

Well, I've had two tough and stubborn ones that turned out almost OK as adults.:freak:(22years old:rohard:25years old:tipsy:).

After what we've gotten through, it feels good to bash teens.:smash: Don't worry I'll pipe down before nasty! :laugh4: