The Wall Street Journal reports that iAds may appear in iBooks as publishers watch their profits dwindle amid technology advances like Apple's iPad. The publishing industry has been less than supportive of these advances and the result could come at the expense of its content.
From a business standpoint, though, this makes total sense. Ads have been queued and served in every other form of digital technology for as long as I can remember. Why not add them to books? With heavy competition in the e-book market, prices are dropping and with it, profits. Enter Apple's iAds.
With the amount of information Apple has on the purchasing habits of iTunes account holders, iAds represents the most dynamic way for publishers to reach an e-book audience that has (so far) been lucky to avoid the advertisement monsoon currently engulfing television, movies, and games.
Other than the obvious built-in market (more than 3 million iPads sold with no signs of slowing), publishers might also look to iAds for the aesthetic value they offer. If you flip to page 40 of Jonathan Lethem's "Chronic City," you may be served an iAd instead of page 41. But don't worry, it won't be based on the book you're reading. The formula is much more complex. And more accurate. The ad you see will have everything to do with your account habits--what you've purchased, downloaded, read, and played.
Of course, none of this is currently happening, but as the WSJ article conjectures, it does seem inevitable. And I have to agree. Perhaps more interesting than publishers pumping ads into their best sellers is the thought that independent authors could publish e-books and have a viable income stream, which would put more attention on the content of the book, rather than a mass market approach as seen from big publishing houses. This approach is similar to indie game developers' use of iAds to fund their future creations.
Advertisements are almost certain to appear in iBooks. Is this a good thing? Will you go back to paper? Let us know in the comments!