I just had a horrible, horrible thought. What if books had advertising in them? Not product placement in the story like “quoth the raven, eat at Burger King”, but real honest-to-goodness ads every three or four pages, just like in magazines. Publishers could print two versions of every title:
1. A normal version of the book at the current regular price; let’s say $36 for a hardcover.
2. A version with advertising that costs, oh, 50-75% less than the normal version. That same hardcover would cost $9-18. The ad version of the same book in paperback might go for only $4.50.
Supported by advertising, publically available texts like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, or Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels could be free. Free books!
Financial issues aside, I believe the world is a better place without advertising absolutely everywhere. But if advertising makes books more affordable — and in some cases absolutely free — and therefore accessible to more people, it’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t be a good idea.
This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.