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Free E-Books, With a Catch — Advertising 194

Velcroman1 writes "Barnes & Noble may kick off a fresh price war today for digital book readers, with its new Nook news. But the real news in digital publishing is a novel approach to the e-books themselves: Free books — with advertising. The basic idea is to offer publishers another way to reach readers and to give readers the chance to try more books — books that perhaps they wouldn't normally peruse if they had to pay more for them. Initially, Wowio specialized in offering digital versions of comic books and graphic novels, usually formatted as Adobe PDFs. So it was a natural step for the company to offer graphic ads that are inserted in e-books. 'We think we're creating a broader audience for some of these titles,' Wowio's CEO Brian Altounian told me. 'I think folks are going to download more books because they're saving the costs' of having to drive to the store or pay more for them. Would ads stop you from reading?" The new color Nook goes for $249, and comes with a browser, games, Quickoffice, streaming music via Pandora, and an SDK; reader itwbennett links to an analysis of how well it stacks up as a tablet.
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Free E-Books, With a Catch — Advertising

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  • Good Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @11:06PM (#34034036) Homepage Journal

    Are we not all surrounded with enough ads yet? About the only place they're not yet is tattooed on the inside of our eyelids.

    To the advertisers: STFU already!

  • by niftydude ( 1745144 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @11:23PM (#34034116)
    Project Gutenberg is excellent - but if we extrapolate the current rate of copyright expansion, books published this century may never enter the public domain.
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DeadPixels ( 1391907 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @11:30PM (#34034150)
    I don't know about other people, but if an ad is particularly annoying, I make a note to remember that company so as not to buy their products. Granted, it works the other way as well; if I see a particularly unobtrusive form of advertising or hear about a company doing something good, I make a point to check out their products and suggest them to friends. Word of mouth for me is much more effective than annoying popups and obtrusive, pushy ads. Those just make me hate you.
  • Re:Great. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @11:46PM (#34034226)

    On the other hand, folks who read something a little substantial would probably care. A lot.

    Thereby providing a rationale for further monetization: well, if you don't want ads you need to pay for the privilege, because, you know, you're costing us money by not directing your gray matter to absorb our advertising. This on top of whatever you paid for this "book" in the first place. Greed knows no bounds, and book publishers are among the most vampiric operations in our society.

    It always amazes me how the business mind works. Like the phone company charging you for the service of not listing your phone number. Eventually, it becomes income to which they feel entitled.

  • No. Just no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @12:03AM (#34034314)

    I read books to escape the monotony of real life. I do NOT want to be forcibly reminded of the outside world while trying to lose myself in a novel. So, in short, NO THANKS. I'd rather pay for my books.

  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @12:08AM (#34034340)
    True - but for the moment, at least, one can occasionally find texts for which copyright has been snatched by US publishing pirates by looking at Gutenberg sites under different jurisdictions. A case in point is Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: copyright to Rosenblum in the US until at least 2044, but public domain in Australia (and probably Canada).
  • Android (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @12:27AM (#34034438) Homepage Journal

    Why block the Android market? If I could install Android apps, then it would be a cheap tablet and I'd gladly buy it. Without Android market, it is a one-off gadget and overpriced. Why intentionally limit a feature that would otherwise be a selling point?

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @12:51AM (#34034502) Journal

    Damn... I can't imagine that. It's just like watching TV and having to sit through an ad. Something I don't do ever since I longer have a TV. Being forced to watch ads is becoming more of an alien concept to me. On the web I never read popups, popunders or sit through those ads they want you to see before reading. Once again they are reinventing the wheel, and remind me why I have abandoned TV.

    The simpler and sources forums are usually the best, and I begrudge a device which I pay (or paid) for being hijacked for ads.

  • by charleylc ( 928180 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @02:59AM (#34034998)
    Your idea has merit. It's much better than the more invasive ads that take up space and cause the reader to shift away from reading to looking at the ad because it just flashed or changed. I personally detest ads. The constant bombardment of ads for every imaginable product is annoying to say the least. Google has done a pretty decent job with the text ads that take up little space and are non-flashing. However, I much rather pay for a book than to have to suffer through advertising. Even watching Hulu annoys me with the ads that are placed in the shows. Although, that's better than regular TV, which not only has more advertising, but ads that blare at a volume much louder than the show that I'm watching. It drives me nuts and stirs feelings of wishing physical harm on those that perpetrate such underhanded, devious, and annoying tatics just to get their products noticed (or ignored because the volume is immediately turned down or muted). I guess it really has become a pet peave of mine. I personally feel that there needs to be more restrictions on what is and is not allowed with advertising. I'm positive that if any such measure were attempted that they would immediately scream about freedom of speech rights. I have seen the legislature efforts requiring the volume of television ads to be the same as the programming it accompanies, which I highly applaud - a nice step in the right direction. I guess I'm saying (albeit, in a round about way) that I would be willing to give something like you suggest a try. The less invasive it is, the better. It comes down to weighing pros and cons of being annoyed by ads but getting something without monetary cost vs paying for the product to be free from the pain of ads. If it's a toss up, then sure, I'd go for it. If the ads are too annoying, then no, I'd rather buy the book straight up.
  • by pacinpm ( 631330 ) <.pacinpm. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:05AM (#34035022)

    And obviously I'm a fucking retard [...]

    Because it's Slashdot you are probably just a retard.

  • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @03:49AM (#34035160) Homepage
    Given that the extensions of the copyright term were applied retroactively, I don't see the problem with retroactively applying a shorter copyright term. Particularly w.r.t. those works that has had their copyright term extended.
  • Re:Great. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @04:55AM (#34035384)
    It always amazes me how the business mind works. Like the phone company charging you for the service of not listing your phone number. Eventually, it becomes income to which they feel entitled.

    It always amazes me when people are looking for ethical or exotic behavioral explanation behind buisness decisions. The buisness mind works just fine. The phone company charges you for the services of _not_ listing your phone number because they essentially sell the access to your phone number by publishing phone books with ads. They make money from you either way (indirectly through ads or directly by charging you). Being a localized monopoly helps, of course.

  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cherokee158 ( 701472 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @06:49AM (#34035688)

    It always amazes me when people are looking for ethical or exotic behavioral explanation behind buisness decisions.

    It saddens me that so many people think that by enshrining a human activity as 'business' automatically excuses unethical behavior. Business is a human activity, and no human activity should be exempt from human virtue. If morality is optional, then it is largely meaningless, and I might as well shoot you and take your money.

  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash@p10linTOKYOk.net minus city> on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @07:02AM (#34035718) Homepage

    heh, i'd preffer it to the current model where the only people who can access scientific literature are those in academia (who have access to most journals though bulk agreements with thier university) or those prepared to pay substantial subscriptions or per-paper fees.

    In my experiance you don't really know if a paper will be useful/interesting until you have read a fair chunk of it. If you were paying by the paper you could easilly run up a bill of hundreds of pounds in a few hours of checking through papers to see which were relavent. That is a lot of money if you are just reading for interest or other noncommercial purposes.

    So the general public is effectively excluded from reading the primary sources of our knowlage.

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @09:14AM (#34036394)

    If the ads added value to the book.

    Imagine a science fiction book with ads for science fiction magazine or a book about learning about
      computers that came with ads for newegg. Technology doesnt have to suck just because it can.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.