Will Amazon Patents Bring In-Book Ads to the Kindle?

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Will Amazon begin serving ads into book downloads on its Kindle device? Two recent patent applications seem to point in that direction.

Patent applications titled “On-Demand Generating E-Book Content with Advertising” and “Incorporating Advertising in On-Demand Generated Content” describe methods for displaying advertising or other content at a user’s request. The practices described include serving ads on pages adjacent to “requested content” as well as serving ads on their own pages.

Not surprisingly, some are reading the worst intentions into these patent applications, assuming Amazon will shortly begin to plunk pitches for Viagra into their $9.99 e-book copies of Wuthering Heights and A-Rod. However, there are several more likely outcomes — including inserting ads into newspaper content viewed on the device or reducing book prices in exchange for some ads at a user’s discretion. Even more probable is that Amazon is merely covering its basis with the patent applications — protecting a potential market well in advance of its arrival. It’s all in the execution, and Amazon knows enough to tread carefully.

Of course, in-book ads have been tried before. Any reader of pulp science fiction and fantasy novels from the ’50s through the ’70s will recall finding ads for body building products and even packaged food (see above) inserted into books with titles like “Inside the Earth’s Core.” No doubt whatever Amazon comes up with will be a hundred times more subtle. (photo credit: NYTimes.com)

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