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Books Media Patents The Almighty Buck

Amazon Wants Patent For Inserting Ads Into Books 219

theodp writes "Three Amazon inventors set out to correct what they felt was a real problem: that 'out-of-print or rare books ... typically do not include advertisements ... the content is fixed and, therefore, has not been adapted to modern marketing.' Their solution is spelled out in newly-disclosed Amazon patent applications for On-Demand Generating E-Book Content with Advertising and Incorporating Advertising in On-Demand Generated Content. From the patent apps, here's what the future of reading may look like: 'For instance, if a restaurant is described on page 12, [then the advertising page], either on page 11 or page 13, may include advertisements about restaurants, wine, food, etc., which are related to restaurants and dining.' So, what would a delightfully-tacky-yet-unrefined Hooters ad do for your Hemingway experience?"
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Amazon Wants Patent For Inserting Ads Into Books

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  • How Pointless.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:04PM (#28576327)
    This is totally pointless. I mean, if you already paid for the book, why should there have to be ads? Heck with digital distribution why even have ads on free stuff because the price of the device itself more than makes up for the minuscule price of transfer.
  • Let them patent it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:16PM (#28576401)

    Seriously. It means that anyone else with this idiotic idea will have to pay a royalty fee, which should discourage them. Unless you want to fight a prior art campaign against Amazon, claiming magazines with ads are prior art. Either way the money will discourage people from trying and this idea will die a lonely death.

    Except for Amazon of course, since they hold the patent. But they can try it, and then they can see for themselves just how great this idea is when they launch it. It'll tank, hard. Nobody will want this.

  • by shoemilk ( 1008173 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:16PM (#28576403) Journal
    Because they are greedy. Why stop there? Why not insert the name of the restaurant into the text? Auto replace "restaurant" with "Chili's". Does the main character put on a coat? Why not make it an Armani coat? Does she take a sip of water? Spice up that water to your brand soft drink for a small fee! Why stop there? Let sponsors have characters "As Captain 'Pizza Hut' Ahab looked out over the sea, he saw her, Moby Dick, brought to you by Target."

    Seriously, though if I wanted ads breaking up what I was reading, I'd buy a newspaper. But I don't so I'll never buy one of those books or a newspaper.
  • Sick of ads (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:24PM (#28576463)

    I am so sick of ads. Just yesterday I swore off using youtube, what with all their ads overlaid on top of videos now.

    I also recently compared the same exact video on hulu (which has ads) to itunes. The video from itunes was much, much better (sharper, better framerate) and no ads. Hulu video was complete crap - now way I could stand watching that. I'll gladly pay a reasonable price for a superior product.

  • Very telling ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:25PM (#28576473) Journal

    the content is fixed and, therefore, has not been adapted to modern marketing.

    So to them a book is nothing more than a marketing instrument.

  • Great Minds (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:26PM (#28576487)

    It honestly makes me weep just a little for our future that this is the best that the greatest minds over at Amazon can come up with - let's basically repackage a technique that has been around for ... well .. since publishing printed material ... and be smart enough to convince patent attorneys that it's been significantly altered such as to warrant legitimate consideration for being granted a patent. Honestly they should be ashamed and monumentally embarrassed of themselves!

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:30PM (#28576513)

    This is totally pointless. I mean, if you already paid for the book, why should there have to be ads?

    I keep seeing this faulty argument involving the concept of "paying twice". It's not that you're being asked to pay again, it's that you didn't fully "pay" the first time. It'd be like buying a $10 product and paying $5 up-front, and having the other $5 paid by advertising it shows.

    That aside, isn't this patent a good thing? It means that only Amazon's products will be crippled with advertising inserted in this manner.

  • by Garbad Ropedink ( 1542973 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:34PM (#28576543)

    If that ever came to be I would wholeheartedly endorse book burning.

    Good god, why not just stick ads in all the old works? I'm sure Picasso would have put a coke machine in Guernica if he knew how cool and refreshing it was....
    'I painted this to protest the lack of coca-cola in my homeland. It will be returned to Spain when there is a coke machine on every corner'

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:40PM (#28576583)

    This is no different than cable TV. I pay x dollars a month just to watch via cable. But then I still get advertisements thrown in. I get ads between "scenes", I get ads that are product placements, and then, imho the worst are those that the channel overlays some animation in the corner.

    So changing "Bob goes into his local restaurant for a greasy cheeseburger" to "Bob goes into TGIFridays for their Super Texan Bacon Burger" is only one step. Most of the books I own have blank margins. Why not put a few ads in there? At the end of a chapter, if the chapter ends with a partial page, why not just put a 1/2 page ad there? I'd love to see, "STIHL Chainsaws present, Chapter 6 in Stephen King's new thriller..."

    My phonebook has a section in the middle with coupons, why not inject a few pages of coupons into the next Harry Potter book? I'm sure all the teenagers reading it could benefit from the acne cream ads.

    I always thought that most people today that read Stephen King's Christine had no idea what a 1958 Plymouth Fury looked like. So maybe they should update it to be a 2008 Toyota Prius. Now while the Prius doesn't evoke fear due to it's toothy chrome grille or tension with it's low rumbling demon-like engine. I'm sure someone would be scared of being sneaked up on by a hybrid.


  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:54PM (#28576661) Homepage

    I keep seeing this faulty argument involving the concept of "paying twice". It's not that you're being asked to pay again, it's that you didn't fully "pay" the first time. It'd be like buying a $10 product and paying $5 up-front, and having the other $5 paid by advertising it shows.

    The vast majority of books do not include such advertisements, but the publishers do still turn a profit. It's not like with magazines, where the costs of a print run are typically higher than revenue from subscription fees. With books, you're usually paying for the costs of printing the book and an extra amount on top. Thus, the idea that you aren't paying for the book in full is simply false. The ads are just extra profit for the publisher.

    It's greed coupled with a total disregard for the artistic integrity of a work.

  • by DreamsAreOkToo ( 1414963 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:05PM (#28576721)

    Except it doesn't work like that with ads. You can watch public television for free and get ads, or you can pay money to watch cable television and get ads. You can pay $50 for Battlefield 1942, or you can pay $50 for Battlefield 2142 and get ads.

    Ads increase profit for companies, they never decrease the price of products, except those offered for free (like Google.)

  • Re:Ads in books? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:05PM (#28576725)

    Reading books with ads in them? No thanks. I'll be off to the pirate ba... shit.

    Hey look, the story is about advertisements in books. And wow, look at that! - this comment is also about advertising in books! ... and for some reason, it was modded Offtopic.

    That's a good example of shitty moderation. As in, this is what not to do.

    As for me, do your worst. I have karma to burn. Any points you waste on me for saying what you know to be the fuckin' truth are points you won't waste improperly modding someone else. So, make my day.

  • Oh Yeah? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:10PM (#28576741)

    ... for filtering book (and book advertiser) content through human decision-making processes.

    I claim MY patent for "a method of monopolizing obvious ideas for which there is lots of prior art by means of convincing the Patent Office that the same old idea, when done with a computer, is somehow radically different and worthy of being treated like a new and innovative invention."

    The way I see it, I should make billions. BILLIONS!!

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:29PM (#28576833)
    It's because whenever people come up with a viable alternative the industry kills it by demanding that legislators make it illegal. They're not always successful, but in most cases they are. Free markets are all well and good, as long as they're actually free. The problem is that in places like the US, we've got a free market when it's convenient to business and a heavily regulated market when it's inconvenient for the consumer.

    The cost of TV would go down dramatically if people had the opportunity to make choices. Right now where I'm living, I've got basically 4 choices. No TV, Satellite, Cable or free to air. Of those, really Satellite is the only option with multiple choices, making that a grand spanking 5 choices over all, of which 3 have very little incentive to compete on cost too vigorously.

    Which is coincidentally why the news of online ads costing more per viewer is so significant. It's much more difficult to abuse ones market position if a provider from anywhere in the nation has to compete with all the other ones.
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:32PM (#28576857)
    If you've ever met somebody involved with marketing or fund raising you'd realize that they see $ on everything. Trust me, they'd charge a person being given an award for the plaque if they could get away with it. The only thing that ever kills ideas like that is if people opt to have nothing than accept whatever it is.
  • by linguizic ( 806996 ) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:32PM (#28576861)
    Somehow "the Fudruckers at the End of the Universe" just doesn't ring right too me....
  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slasRABB ... minus herbivore> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @04:21AM (#28578653)

    Nope. They are not for free. Who do you think pays the money that Google wants for those ads? You, when you buy the product.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @10:54AM (#28580147)
    "I wouldn't mind a tasteful, text-only add in its own table that doesn't interrupt the flow of the text I'm reading."

    I would. Books are the last advertisement-free stronghold, the last place we can turn for entertainment that does not come loaded with advertisements. There is no possible way to place a tasteful ad in a book, and the concept should be immediately dropped. Honestly, how greedy can these publishers get?

    I will not buy a single book from any publisher that engages in this practice (unless it is a used copy without ads).

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson