From the twitter (@personanondata)
It’s a compelling argument, but like so many compelling arguments made about the future of books, it’s also hampered by consisting almost entirely of bullshit. For one thing, publishers are really not geared up to sell ads: they’d have to recruit armies of ad sales people who would be forced to actually sit down and read the novels and historical memoirs and chick-lit-churn-outs that they’d be selling against. Not going to happen.
And even if publishers do hire these crack ad teams, they’d be asking them to perform an almost impossible task: to accurately predict the readership of forthcoming books. Magazines and newspapers are able to tell advertisers weeks or months in advance what their circulation is likely to be, and so how much bang brands can expect to get for their buck. By contrast, even publishers with decades of experience have no idea whether a given title is going to sell one copy or a million. Which advertiser would have bought ads in the niche-niche prospect ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ when the book was published in late 2003? And yet by January 2004 it had become an international bestseller. Traditional ad sales people would be constantly chasing their tails to try to keep up with such an unpredictable industry.
More importantly, though, any direct comparison between books and magazines (or newspapers) is completely misguided. Yes, both formats deliver words to readers’ eyes but where a magazine is designed for light reading – something one skims in a doctor’s waiting room, fully expecting to be interrupted at any moment - a book is a fully immersive experience in which the readers expects to be transported completely to another world.
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