Monday, July 13, 2009

Extra--Extra, Get Your Free Ebooks. . .

The following was submitted by Scott Jensen as a comment, but we decided, with his permissions of course, to post his words of wisdom here instead:

Part One:

Here's my take on the future for the professional writers and their agents.

1) All books will be e-books.

2) Advertising will be inserted in between chapters ... possibly chapter segments ... possibly on one half of the screen while the novel runs on the other half in a sort of fat column.

3) E-books will be given away free. No more book sales. Borders, Barnes & Noble, and even Amazon will die. And why books are given away free is because a) copies cost nothing to make and b) #2 above. Advertisers will pay more if the book is more popular. The best way to get a book to be more popular is to freely give away the book. This will result in bigger download numbers and thus bigger payments from advertisers.

And I'm exploring the above ideas with the novel I'm currently writing (presently at over 72,000 words) by telling what kind of advertiser should be between the chapters as I write it. What I'm finding is that the ads are a great boon to the novel itself. They can help set the scene, mood, or single something out for special attention that the following chapter talks about. And speaking as a marketer, I know advertisers will MUCH prefer this since readers will then not ignore such advertising but really look at it since it is essentially part of the story. This combines product placement with print advertisements for a lot of things. But not all things. Especially when you, the writer, just want to set a mood for a chapter that won't have any product placement mentioned in it. Or at least that's I'm finding out as I write my novel.

And being an e-book, the ads can be in full-color and inserted anywhere without any trouble. No bunching all the color photographs in the center of the novel. Not that e-book readers can presently handle color. In fact, there is only one (Fujitsu’s Flepia) that presently can handle color and it costs a whopping $1,000. But I think it is only a matter of time before all e-book readers do color. After all, if any e-book reader maker wants to actually get parents of toddlers to use them to read books to their kids, they HAVE to have color. No young tot will tolerate black-n-white picture books.

And that's saying e-book readers are the main medium for novels and non-fiction books. They very well might not be. People can read e-books on their computer screen and now cellphones. Cellphones are themselves going through a HUGE revolution in their design. Until just recently, their design goal was "smaller is better", but with the advent of text messaging and digital cameras in cellphones, that is no longer the case. Cellphones are now becoming bigger so people can have a bigger monitor to look at text messages, photographs, and even video sent them to by other cellphone users. That and the most desired way to text message is the thumb keyboard. Slide the monitor up and the thumb keyboard is revealed and ready for service. What this means for novels is that cellphone screens are getting larger and larger and thus more enjoyable to use for reading. I can easily see people reading books on their cellphones as they take the bus to work, sunbath on the beach, drink an espresso at a cafe, cool their heels in clinic waiting rooms, etc. No lugging around a paper novel or even an e-book reader. Just take out their cellphones, call up their current novel, it will load itself where they last left off, and away the reader goes.

To be Continued. . .


Anonymous said...

Um..Amazon filed a patent to put ads in ebooks.
Here's the link to the blog where it's being discussed.

Scott Jensen said...

They have a patent for one way of putting ads into ebooks. A technical way. They do not have a patent that says only they can put ads into ebooks. That wouldn't hold up in court for a second.

Jim MacKrell said...

I currently have a "sponsor" for my novel. They will participate in profits as well as marketing promotion. Ads will not be significant in the body of the work but in fly pages both front and rear with sponsorship credits and label on both covers.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what to think of ads in ebooks.

Thanks for these posts. Very interesting info.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott,
I only meant that they were working on the idea. Not that others couldn't find a way of doing it.

Scott Jensen said...

Scott Jensen continues with this added commment:

Now if I'm correct with all the above. What I believe will result is the death of ALL publishers. Every single one of them. There's no need for them. You can convert your e-book manuscript into an e-book-reader-ready/cellphone-ready format with little trouble and possibly with a mere click of a button.

But I do NOT think this advance will spell the death of agents. Agents will "simply" operate differently in the future. Today, agents pitch novels to publishers. In the future, agents will pitch novels to advertising firms and possibly directly to major advertisers. That the most sought-after agents will be those with established relationships with major ad agencies, major advertisers, and countless minor ones.

This will not mean that if you get accepted by an agent that you're assured a fat check every month. Not at all. Your agent will still have to pitch your novel to ad firms. Convince them that your novel is the right one for their clients' products and/or services. And just like today, the hardest novelists to pitch will be the first-time novelists. Agents will have an easier time pitching established novelists since they can point to download numbers of their previous books.

Anyway, the above is what I think will be the future of writing. Publishing will be dead but writing will continue on and I believe be an even greater success than it has ever been in history.

Unfortunately, no agent is doing the above. Due to this, I think I'll have to be the one to do the pitching of my e-novel to advertisers. But someone has to blaze the first trail. Being a marketer myself, I'm probably the right one to do it. I'm sure that if I succeed, all but the most resistant-to-change agents will follow suit and eventually I can turn over the pitching of my novels to one of them. :-)

12/7/09 11:32 AM

Anonymous said...

Of course, just as is the case with people renting or buying DVDs of television shows, there will always be people like me who are willing to pay extra to read a good book without the advertising. Nothing is really free, and I prefer to pay upfront for my entertainment.

Scott Jensen said...


If you read my novel without the advertising in it, it would be less of an experience. I incorporate the ads into the novel. They're almost a cheat. They quickly help me set a scene, show you something, create a mood, and such for you the reader.

Atkins said...

This makes me sad. What products will be advertised in the literature I read? And, book stores will never die, only adapt.

Anonymous said...

Can Mr. Jensen provide there some specific examples of how this ad tie-in works with the novel he is writing? What's the nature of the novel?

Also, if there is no traditional income, wouldn't X% of nothing pretty much consign agents to the literary industrial trash can? Or would they continue on, but in a new role, such as selling works to advertisers? Seems that the agent now has to consider a whole new set of problems they never had to before. Likewise authors of course.

Scott Jensen said...


What advertisements would be in the literature you read would be up to the writer, agent, and the advertisers. Publishers having died. And the control (thus power) will be with the writers and their agents, which means mainly with the writer. Some writers will care about what ads appear in their novels. Some won't. Some agents will point out how one advertiser will pay more than other advertiser and some writers will listen. Some won't. And I'm sure there will be plenty of agents pulling their hair out because the writer won't agree to big-spending Advertiser X running an ad in their novel. And I could see some agents doing likewise with writers that "just must have" Advertiser Y in their novel but when the agent approached them, they weren't interested, and whereupon the writer throws a temper trauma because they "must" have that advertiser for their novel to be all that it is meant to be.

As for myself and as I am writing my current novel, I making notes of what kind of an advertiser should be between chapters and even what I want shown in their ad. The job (my or my agent's job) will be to find these advertisers and convince them to create their ads in the way that would enrich my novel and pay me something for this advertising.

Then there is Amazon that is taking possibly a step between the above two extremes. The ads inserted into their e-books are very likely like ads you see by Google. They are related to the subject currently being discussed but not selected by the writer. And I think this is about the only thing that Amazon can do to survive. They must be able to offer the writers (and their agents) more than the agents are able to independently get. If Amazon can, agents will recommend to their writers to go with Amazon. However, any agent worth their salt (their cut) will laugh at the money offered by Amazon since they will be able to get their writers FAR more due to their own direct relationships with ad agencies and major advertisers. Given this, I think the only way for Amazon to survive would be to try to cut out the agent! In other words, writers directly submit to Amazon (probably by way of an automated submission and acceptance system) and then Amazon inserts their ads and pay the writer a percentage of the ad revenue generated. [In fact, what surprises me is that Google hasn't already been doing this since they already have all the technology and advertiser base.] But this agent-less Amazon route will VERY likely be the option of beginning writers only. Once you're an established writer, agents will be should easily be able to get you more money than Amazon will be able to offer. Then again, this might just be the route that starting-out writers will have to take. Agents might not consider a writer until they have proven themselves with Amazon.

And anyone that is opposed to advertisements in books ignores magazines. Some of the greatest short stories in history were first published in magazines. In fact, some of the greatest novels were serialized in magazines. Sir Arthur Canon Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures (both short stories and full novels) first saw print in the Strand Magazine.

As for bookstores, I'm sorry but they'll go the way of horse stables. E-books don't need physical bookstores. And once e-books take hold, many writers (and their agents) won't bother with coming out with a printed version of their work. No, bookstores are dead men walking right now.

Scott Jensen said...

"Second" Anonymous (not counting first Anonymous' reply): "Can Mr. Jensen provide there some specific examples of how this ad tie-in works with the novel he is writing?"

I'll give you two examples. One a direct product placement example and the other a "mood" advertisement.

There is a scene in my novel that places on a cruise ship. The main characters briefly comment on where they're going at the end of one chapter and then the next two chapters is on that cruise ship. What I did was have the characters mention the ship's name they're about to go on. Then the advertisement between that chapter and the next is for that cruise line with the ad showing the ship of their fleet that was just previously named in the last chapter. And one of the bubbles in that ad needs to show a picture of that ship's seafood restaurant. As the scene continues into the next chapter, the advertisement before that chapter advertises just the cruise ship's seafood restaurant as that is where the scene is taking place.

There is a romantic chapter that I just couldn't see any way of putting a product placement into it. The chapter just doesn't lend itself to product placements. However, I wasn't stumped for an advertisement before that chapter. Instead, I recommended a florist website be advertised with their ad showing a very beautiful arrangement of a dozen roses, which itself has a very romantic name.

The benefit of both kinds of advertisements for my novel is that they help me convey things across to the reader. The first ad for the cruise ship SHOWS the cruise ship to the reader. I do not need to waste any narration describing it. The second ad SHOWS the interior of the seafood restaurant. Again, I don't need to waste any narration to describe it. In both cases, the reader can get all the information at a glance. No slowing down of the momentum to give descriptors! Additionally, it will GREATLY help mentally transport the reader to the new scene.

As for the mood advertisement, there will be no roses in the chapter but it is the mood I am going for. The advertisement shows a photo of a dozen roses in a beautiful arrangement with it given a romantic name. This will put the reader into the right frame of mind I am wanting them to possess for reading the following chapter. It helps me get the reader to "think" romantic.

2nd Anonymous: "What's the nature of the novel?"

It is a near-future science fiction story that explores the what-if question: What if computers evolved into super-genius intellects and did NOT want to kill all humans?

My story explores what that world would be like through the eyes of a man that had died today, was cryonically frozen, and revived into that future. A future the story says is only twenty years from now. The story is a Rip Van Winkle kind of story with a lot of humor injected into it.

2nd Anonymous: "Also, if there is no traditional income, wouldn't X% of nothing pretty much consign agents to the literary industrial trash can? Or would they continue on, but in a new role, such as selling works to advertisers? Seems that the agent now has to consider a whole new set of problems they never had to before. Likewise authors of course."

That is what Part Two will talk about. :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't see printed books going away ever. Record albums were supposed to go away and now they are making a (small) comeback. I think there will always be a niche for them. But I agree that electronic books will become more popular. And electronic books can do more things with text, such as have interactive narrative, personalized narrative, text accessible in serialized installments, and audio and full-motion video and other things that challenge the idea of what is a book.

How do you think advertising will succeed in books? In unchanging printed books the advertising would become out of date and/or irrelevant. And the reader could just skip it. But it would also provide additional context for the author's (and the original audience's) world. I could see advertising working in electronic books since the publisher could require the reader to view the advertisement and/or interact with it before continuing with the text. It would be especially successful in a suspense novel with cliffhanger endings at the end of each chapter, since the reader would be highly motivated to get to the next chapter.

Do you truly want advertising to shape the narrative of your novel? Wouldn't you rather set the mood or scene of your settings with your own prose? And would you worry about the chose advertising becoming less effective if it can't be changed? And what would happen if the publisher quit managing the advertising and left the reader viewing large blank pages?

Scott Jensen said...

Third Anonymous: How do you think advertising will succeed in books?

Mainly by making ebooks free to the public. Full-time authors need to get paid. No pay, no books. Currently, authors are paid with book royalties. However, if they get paid by advertisers on how many download their ebooks, the books can and will be given away free to increase the download count. Much like how programming on broadcast TV and radio is done today.

In unchanging printed books the advertising would become out of date and/or irrelevant. And the reader could just skip it. But it would also provide additional context for the author's (and the original audience's) world.

I totally agree. If Sir Arthur Canon Doyle had done so with Sherlock Holmes novels, it would add to the story. Get the reader more in tune with that age.

I could see advertising working in electronic books since the publisher could require the reader to view the advertisement and/or interact with it before continuing with the text. It would be especially successful in a suspense novel with cliffhanger endings at the end of each chapter, since the reader would be highly motivated to get to the next chapter.

I don't see a need for this strong-arm approach. It isn't needed in magazines. I can see readers getting very upset if it were done. I know I would.

Do you truly want advertising to shape the narrative of your novel? Wouldn't you rather set the mood or scene of your settings with your own prose?

If the author gets to select which advertisers appear in their novels, it is the author that shapes the advertising and not the other way around. I, as author, am setting the mood/scene by thus doing so.

An ebook run by Amazon (see first comment in this section), though, wouldn't give the author this control and thus I would think many authors would be more opposed to using Amazon for their ebook because of this.

And would you worry about the chose[n] advertising becoming less effective if it can't be changed?

Advertisers would be seeking to pitch the initial flood of readers of an ebook. Anything beyond the initial flood is simply a bonus.

And what would happen if the publisher quit managing the advertising and left the reader viewing large blank pages?

If what I predict happens, publishers will be dead. It will be the author, their heirs, and the agent that will be in complete control. Given this, there won't ever won't be blank pages. Plus I'm in the camp of not changing the advertising once the ebook is released. Let it time capsule the novel. ;-)

Scott Jensen said...

Now here's something that really sucks about Amazon and its Kindle.

This can and currently is a problem with charging for ebooks.

J. M. Strother said...

I agree with a lot of this, but in the long run I don't think cell phones will be a major medium for long from reading. Not because of the small screen - but because of the battery drain. Unless battery technology really improves, or they start using eInk on cell phones, I just don't think it will fly. I can't see arriving at work every day with a dead cell phone very appealing.

Scott Jensen said...

J. M. Strother,

Cellphone are ever improving in efficiency and battery life. They are also the first one to adopt new battery technology and are one of the biggest patrons of battery research. And ebooks is far less draining than digital video. Given all this, I'm not concerned about this being the limiting factor with ebook on cellphones. They'll keep pace with user demands.

But NO advancement in battery technology will really be necessary. Not with the coming arrival of wireless electricity. Here's a link to a video that explains what's just about to hit the nation:

The video even talks specifically about how cellphones will adopt this technology and shows the current bulky wireless-electricity adapter you can use for a cellphone today. It will naturally shrink in size and improve in efficiency. I love technology. :-)

Bruce said...

After reading all of this I am stunned that someone would actually state that print will never go away and yet in the next sentence accepts the fact that print cost is getting prohibitive. What is a fact is that history has shown since the dawn of time that man will invent another way, a better way of doing it no matter what it may be.

I am a business consultant and new technology comes forward each and every day to resolve problems and make things much more cost effective over time. As we have seen cell phones use to be a suitcase and cost over $1000.00, now they fit in your pocket and most service providers give them away for free. Computers use to take up an entire room, now they slide right into your carry on bag. Yes, many different devices have come about to allow a person to read books by downloading them and currently we are speaking about the e-book.

The issue you speak about print never dieing is like telling me Vinyl albums will never die. Guess what, Vinyl is dead and now a collectors item, no longer in print. Soon to follow is the CD since music is downloadable now to your iPod. I guess the music industry never thought the invention of the iPod would completely change the music industry, right?

Seriously, let’s look at the music industry for a minute. Here is an industry that made Billions every year selling CDs, and before that is was cassettes, before that it was 8 tracks, and before that is was vinyl albums. So I guess proof is in the pudding, a little device called the iPod literally crushed the Music industry. So what did the Music Industry leaders do? They changed the way they do business, and adapted to the new technology and moved forward.

Another industry that has used technology to advance its profits, then lose it all to another new technology, The Porn Industry. Well its an industry that went from 8mm, to Beta, to VHS, to CDs, then DVDs, now Blue ray. Too bad the reign of bog porn companies is over and the little guy is taking over. Yes for once the small business is taking down major corporations all because of the internet. The internet is not so new but the use of a delivery system on the internet has changed the porn industry forever.

The porn industry as a major corporation lost to mom and pop because they have learned the key point, give it away. Yes give it away and make it up somewhere else. Just like the cell phone companies give away the phone and make up on the service contract. So you can go to multiple porn websites and view porn for free, verses buying a DVD for $19.95 from a porn store. This simple little maneuver has literally brought billion dollar corporations to there knees all because of a simple change in technology.

As for print will never die, well look at all those magazine companies losing massive profits, along with newspaper companies asking for a bailout from the US Government. Come on man look around print is slowly slipping away.

Anonymous said...

A large screen cellphone stops being a cellphone at some point. We like cellphones because they're small, not because we want to read novels on them. I have no doubt publishing will change, but this is all nonsense.

It isn't about technology, it isn't even about writers and readers,it's about money. Pure and simple. It's ALWAYS about money.

Dreams are nice, but I doubt six people on earth enjoy ads, or will tolerate them when there's any other choice. Ad-based publishing has already been tried numerous times. It was even tried before there was an internet. People HATE ads.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and right now, at least, it ain't broke.

Every scheme I've seen like this seems to come from a writer who can't make it, who just isn't good enough to cut it in the business world.

So whet do they do? They try to create a new business scheme.

Changes will happen according to where the MONEY is, and according to what people want, and are willing to PAY for, not according to speculation based on business models that have already failed several times.

Scott Jensen said...

Dear (Third) Anonymous,

First, pick a name and give yourself it so we can properly direct our comments to you. Under "Choose an identity", select "Name/URL" and give yourself a name there. A URL isn't necessary.

As for your comments...

People are already reading novels on their cellphones. The trend in cellphones is larger and larger monitors and has been that way for sometime now. What is driving this isn't novels, but text-messaging and digital photography (including digital video photography). The most sought-after cellphones are not the earplug cellphones, but the iPhones and the cellphone with monitors you move up to reveal a thumb keyboard underneath.

As for money being the driving force, you will get no argument from me on that. It is what drives technology and innovations of all kinds.

As for people not enjoying ads, I hear this bullshit all the time. Actually people love ads. From California Raisins ... to Budweiser frogs ... to "Wazzup?!" beer ads ... countless others. A large percentage of people look forward to the commercials during the Superbowl.

As for ad-based publishing before the internet, in later posts and comments in this discussion I address this. What I'm talking about is in ebooks to make them free to the public. I am not talking about doing the same with printed books due to the points I later present. Read further in this discussion for those points.

As for ad-based publishing on the internet, give links to the failed examples you say abound. No links means you're just spouting opinions and not facts.

As for print publishing not being broke, please name ONE person in a key position in the industry that says the print publishing isn't broke? Provide a link. I know of many that say just the opposite. Type into Google "future of print publishing" if you would like to see what I would link you to.

As for your derogatory comments about me, I'll not join you in the gutter by replying back.