By Elizabeth Jackman
Amazon announced today that e-book sales are out-selling print books – both hardcover and paperback.
The online retailer said that since April 1, it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed books, including printed books for which there is no electronic edition. The comparison excludes free e-books, which would tip the scales further if they were included.
The popularity of the e-book (Amazon is selling three times the number of e-books than they were this time last year) can be largely attributed to the accessibility of the Amazon Kindle, which is priced very affordably at $114. The reason behind this price-cut from the original $399 Kindle is the installation of on-screen ads, which change frequently, but do not appear within any e-book pages.
The “Kindle with Special Offers” offsets the cost of the actual device for consumers, but not the costs of e-books.
Those of us who have a Kindle or an iPad, or some other e-reader device, are familiar with the e-book purchase process – it may surprise some of you who have not browsed e-book aisles online, that the electronic format of most best sellers are often as expensive as their printed counterpart.
E-book purchases are made with the compulsive click of a button, and for the avid reader, costs can quickly add up.
There are a number of free e-book downloads in online stores such as Amazon Kindle and Apple iBook for promotional e-books, the classics and other out of copyright books. However, classics aside, the selection of free books is limited in quality as well as quantity.
It would be advantageous, given the voracity with which consumers are downloading e-books, and given the pervasive nature of digital advertising, if advertisers and e-book publishers would focus their attention on monetizing a percentage of new books by placing ads – ads that link to online destinations – within e-books. This could help subsidize the price of the e-books, thereby increasing the frequency of downloads, the overall popularity of the book, and the visibility of the author.
WOWIO, an emerged leader in “in e-book advertising”, provides an online marketplace for authors and publishers to sell e-books with both sponsorships and book-embedded ads. Consumers, in order to take advantage of reduced pricing, must make purchases and downloads through the WOWIO site.
But e-book advertising is not widely used as industry tactic. As Emily Steel commented last December in her WSJ.com article, Marketers Test Ads in E-books, “For starters, most books sell only a few hundred thousand copies, not enough to interest most advertisers. And many author contracts say the writer has to approve any ads.”
As a web-marketer who has watched the steep success of the e-book industry across multiple genres, it seems that a mutually-beneficial advertising opportunity is being missed due to obstacles with possible solutions. E-book advertising affords a very targeted and measurable marketing channel, as well as an “opt-in” consumer audience, which should hold significant sway over advertisers. And while it is important to be respectful to the creative process and vision of the author, it is also in the advertiser’s best interest to place an ad in line with the style and substance of the book’s content.
Other media, e.g. Hulu.com, have successfully integrated advertising in their products/services to undercut consumer fees. And on a personal note, as a reader I would appreciate discounted e-books, even if it meant viewing advertisements; as a writer, I would prefer more people be able to afford and read my work than to worry that my writing would be in any way diluted by advertisements placed in section breaks of my book.