There’s a lot of talk amongst authors about the ebook revolution and where publishing is headed. I’ve read many blogs and participated in online discussion groups where some authors believe that print will be dead much like the cassette tape and the vcr. Many have said that all ebooks will be free and that they forsee an ad-supported model because more and more readers are deciding that this is what they want.
My take on this…
They are absolutely wrong. People hate ads and go through great lengths to avoid them. This is why people buy TiVos and other devices that allow people to skip commercials. Have you heard the news lately? Dish network is getting sued by cable companies over the Hopper –which allows their customers to skip commercials- citing copyright infringements. It appears that the Hopper is making a big splash in the cable service provider market because they’re giving people what they want.
Ad-supported ebooks are not what the people want. As recent history has indicated, consumers will go through great lengths to avoid ads and ignore them altogether. Sure, some cheapskates will indulge in free, ad-supported books as early adopters, but in the end they’ll grow pissed off with ads and avoid ad-supported ebooks like the plague by either buying non ad-supported ebooks or downloading pirated non ad-supported ebooks from torrent sites.
On the other hand, ads absolutely make sense on ereading devices as people can either sit through the 20 second ads on kindle fire-like devices and get to their book, or buy a non ad-supported device altogether. What an ad-supported model for ebooks might end up doing is strengthening traditional publishers. They’ll continue to publish non ad-supported books and continue to make record profits while indie authors who have no business sense will continue to self-loathe as they try to figure out ways to make money on ad-supported free.