June 23, 2011

This screensaver for sale

Amazon sells a Kindle model called "Kindle with Special Offers." It feeds advertising to the screensaver. My only objection to the idea is that the discount itself isn't enough, though I suspect Amazon is gathering data to justify steeper discounts in the future.

Of course, the hoity-toities who live to be offended by and and all "capitalistic" innovations will take offense (hey, then don't buy one), but this strikes me as a perfectly appropriate commercial activity.

It's the same advertising strategy employed by PBS and National Geographic (the print magazine): content framed by "a word from our sponsors" at the beginning and end. They make it work by running ads that appeal to the intellectual vanity of their audience.

Public radio and television have perfected the art of the non-ad ad. As with movie trailers, it's important to get the right balance so it doesn't become annoying and ruin the "commercial-free" spell. (On second thought, treat movie trailers as a cautionary tale.)

How many high-falutin' literary magazines don't take advertising?

In any case, what are book covers and blurbs but ads? Flipping to the end of a dull reference book I keep next to my desk, I find ten pages of promos. As long as I've been ordering books from Japan, I've been pulling out the blow-ins (and using them as bookmarks).

Advertising is information. Back in the pre-Internet computer magazine days, the ads were where the bleeding edge turned real, where the hypothetical turned into hardware. One reason I visit sites like Anime News Network is to check out the ads in rotation.

So bring it on, Amazon. Get creative. If the customer doesn't like it, you'll find out soon enough. That's what the experiment of capitalism is all about.

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# posted by Blogger Joe
6/23/2011 6:42 PM   
Funny thing is that the hoity-toities likely don't see an author talking about their book on NPR as crass advertising.

As I've said elsewhere, I don't understand the TV networks reluctance to fully use the Hulu model for streaming shows. (I'm looking at you USA network!)