Cover Story - Outlook 2010: The Future of the Industry
What's needed going forward, Rubin advises, is nothing less than a new conception of the role of the publisher grounded in an enhanced relationship with consumers. E-books could be the key to making this happen.
This evolution will not come without growing pains. Books have, up to this point, been spared the bleeding of commercialization (ads) into content that consumers have come to tolerate, and in some cases even embrace, in other forms of media. All this could be changing.
On-screen advertisements appearing when e-book users power up their devices may not be far off, Norris says, noting that e-book readers adapted for the PC would most likely be the first to experiment with this idea. (Some publishers have tested ad-supported models for putting book content online.) Consumers already used to small pop-up ads running during TV shows and alongside online content may not blanch at such an imposition when viewing books on computer screens.
"I really foresee a time when you will have additional monetization streams coming from e-books," Rubin says. "However distasteful it might be to some people, there are going to be ads on some of the things that you download on your device. There certainly will be more specifically targeted products."
The possibilities for a rich media approach to electronic book content are too intriguing to ignore, Rubin says.
"My daughter, ironically, was reading 'Brave New World' on her Kindle, and she was annotating all these different things," he says. "I foresee some public way of sharing that with other people who have similar annotations. With the Web 3.0 and semantic analysis that's coming out, the reader [is] going to get connected with people with very similar tastes, so the social dynamic is that much more appealing and that much more sticky. The other side of the convenience is she will probably be targeted more by advertisers, so there's monetization that comes out of that."