Sponsors for my book?

I’m writing the section of my book about publishing and exploring new models. Would love, as always, to get your thoughts on what I’m writing:

Rick Smolan has found another way to support his gorgeous and thus expensive collaborative photography books: sponsorship. He is best known for producing America 24/7, a book chronicling one week in the life of the U.S. with 1,000 top photojournalists. More recently, he produced America at Home, with a companion for the U.K., and it was underwritten by an obvious sponsor: Ikea. (He also had another innovative idea: You can pay to get the book with your photo on the cover.)

So here’s the question: Why shouldn’t books have ads to support them as TV, newspapers, magazines, and radio do? Ads in books would be less irritating than commercials interrupting shows or banners blinking at you on a web page. Would it be any more corrupting to have ads in this book than next to a story I write in Business Week? Well, you’d have to tell me. If I were to have had a sponsor or two for this book, who would it have been and what would you have thought of my work as a result? If Dell bought an ad—because, after all, I now have nice things to say about them—would you have wondered whether I’d sold out to them? I would fear you’d think that. What about Google itself? Obviously, that wouldn’t work. Yahoo? Ha! Who might want to talk to you and associate themselves with the thinking in this book while also helping to support it? I’m not sure. Let’s discuss that for the paperback I hope gets published. Come to my blog and tell me what you think.

….So that’s what I wrote in the manuscript. But, of course, we can discuss this now. Do you think I should take a sponsor or two for the book (I’m not saying it’s an option; this is a discussion)? If so, who would make a good sponsor? Who wouldn’t? Would it affect your thinking if a sponsored book cost less? Should I then wish for a sponsor not only because it reduces the risk for the publisher and me but because it means more books could be sold at a lower price spreading the ideas in the book farther?

Thoughts?

: If we had any guts – and we likely don’t – we could auction a sponsor position on eBay. How’s this for a model: The sponsor, like a publisher, pays an advance but commits to pay a CPM based on copies sold but on a scale that’s reverse that of publisher commissions (the more copies that are sold, the lower the CPM goes).

Maybe that could be a model for news sponsorship, too: Sponsor a story and the more links it get, the more audience you get, the more you pay at a lower rate.

: LATER: Rick Smolan asked that I add this note from him responding to some of the comments:

1) I completely understand the skepticism many of your readers expressed at the mental image of a sponsored book – what comes to mind is a product dripping with logos and not so subtle product placement – an annual report disguised as journalism.

2) The truth of the matter, at least as it pertains to the books that we produce, couldn’t be further from that. Don’t think advertising – think PBS Special: “The Following program is made possible through a generous grant from X Corporation”. That’s it. Period.

3) As far as logos and credits for sponsors, if you look at AMERICA AT HOME or any one of the other books we’ve produced, the first page of the book carries the logos of the sponsors and at the end of the book is a page explaining their contribution to the project. That’s it.

4) Because of the support of our sponsors (which include Apple, Google, Ikea, HP, Fedex, Kodak, Adobe, and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies) more than five million copies of our books adorn peoples coffee tables around the world.

5) Every single book we’ve produced for the past 25 years has been sponsored. Why? Because no publisher would publish our first book, “A Day in the Life of Australia” we went to the business community in Australia and self-published the book – it went on to become the #1 book in Australia and sold 200,000 copies (in a market where 10,000 was a best seller).

6) After that first success we certainly had publishers interested in being our publisher but our projects (which usually include not only a large format illustrated book, but also a TV show, website, exhibits and worldwide PR) cost millions of dollars each to produce and no publisher is willing to risk such large amounts on a single title.

7) In terms of journalistic integrity, our agreement with sponsors is that they get no editorial rights of censorship or input. In order to be able to engage the talents of photographers and editors from Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post, etc we have to ensure this editorial independence.

8) The fact that Time, Newsweek, Fortune and US News regularly feature our books on their covers (and even mention the role of the sponsors as part of the story) speaks volumes.

9) In addition to the funding our sponsors also run full fledged marketing campaigns to promote their sponsorship. Kodak for example has run full page ads in the Wall Street Journal promoting the fact that they were the sponsor. Nikon ran full page ads in Newsweek. Apple created promotional videos.

10) Ironically, a company has a much greater chance of having its products featured in one of our books if they AREN’T a sponsor. That’s because we actually remove any photo that contains a sponsors products to avoid the impression that we are doing product placement. Our current book AMERICA AT HOME is a perfect example – it was sponsored by IKEA yet there isn’t a single photo of an IKEA product in the book.

The one nod to IKEA is that when book buyers order a customized book featuring their own family or home on the cover those personalized covers carry the IKEA name (note: about 21% of the people who purchase this book are actually customizing it – an amazing trend in publishing). Not a single person has complained about this – probably because people seem to have a great deal of affection for IKEA.

  • lacajag

    Very interesting idea, Jeff, equating ads in books to ads in other media forms. After all, all output is mediated by agenda (space vs. message). Harcourt Brace decides what’s in books it publishes, too. But, definitely, the advertising will be perceived as a factor in the content if it’s direct. Dell praise will be questioned if Dell is the sponsor.

    However, if you have a peripheral sponsor – someone not mentioned in your book, but within the industry – that could be a great opportunity. You receive the ability to publish and the company gets a great branding opportunity by being associated with the book…and Dell…Google…Yahoo.

    So, perhaps, someone like Targus or 3M, or a computer store like MicroCenter, Best Buy?

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

    Good luck!

  • http://tvbarn.com Aaron Barnhart

    I’d avoid the tech companies for the reason you state.

    I’d look for a psychographic fit, much like American Apparel whch advertises on BM.

    I’d look for magazines that reach people that you reach.

    Both of these are traditional print advertisers who also are excellent at utilizing the web and are highbrow enough that their ads wouldn’t seem inappropriate in a paperback.

  • http://www.wyman.us/ Bob Wyman

    Haven’t we been here before? I remember years ago that paperbacks often had advertisement pages (usually cigarette ads if I remember right…). They were often thicker than the other pages and thus somewhat irritating. Ripping the things out made for a good bookmark…

    bob wyman

  • http://yihongs-research.blogspot.com/ Yihong Ding

    Jeff,

    I do not know well about the book publishing business. From a layman’s eye, however, I would like to share you with my thoughts.

    There is some subtle difference between book publishing and magazine (or TV, radio, newspaper, etc) publishing. In magazine publishing, you have the relationship between publisher and article author and then the relationship between publisher and advertisement sponsor. Using standard CS term in database construction, you have two BINARY relationship sets. By contrast, in book publishing scenario, you have the relationship among publisher, book author, and sponsor. It is, however, a TERNARY relationship set (again, using the formal CS term).

    To properly deal with a ternary relationship set is often significantly harder than to handle two binary relationship sets when this ternary set cannot be trivially decomposed to two binary sets. This is true in database handling, and it is true in real world life too.

    From the publisher’s point of view, they may worry about whether they may lose their control over book selection to the big book advertisement sponsors. For example, will people start to look for Google-sponsored books more than look for random-house-published books? Such a phenomenon would be a huge brand disaster for the major book publishers. (On the other hand, however, it might be a decent chance for small book publishers. May we see the long tail Web 2.0 phenomenon in the old book publisher domain? ;-))

    In short, this issue would be very complicated.

    Then let’s switch to the author side. Again, in the other medias such as magazine or TV, generally authors do not directly face sponsors (though there are particular company-sponsored authors and everybody knows them). The two-binary-set model protects the integrity of author’s voices for the public since they do not directly deal with sponsor’s money.

    In book publishing scenario, again, just as you also mentioned, won’t the authors’ writing be affected by their book advertisement sponsor’s standing point when these sponsors are directly contacting the book authors? Everybody will concern it and hence the integrity of book content will be questioned.

    So, I would not say that looking for book sponsors is a bad idea. But I must point out that to handle a ternary relationship set is much more difficult than to handle two binary relationship set.

    best and always enjoy reading your posts.

    Yihong

  • D.

    As an alternative option, maybe, such as publishing a limited-run, ad-supported paperback of the book simultaneously with the initial (ad-free) hardcover printing. Ads are generally acceptable in periodicals, as a way to subsidize timely, mass-distributed journalism – this could certainly apply to some non-fiction books. But books are revered, even if they don’t always warrant it, for the space and integrity they allow for…easy to see how ads could eat into the latter.

  • http://www.marketingtechnician.com Andrew

    > Ripping the things out made for a good bookmark…

    Then let’s do an insert with three perfed bookmarks, showing advertiser creative. Reader gets to choose which bookmark they keep and use.

  • Esther

    Not a bad idea to get advertisers to sponsor a book, but there is of course, the problem that people will think the book is biased toward the views of the advertisers. But if you got sponsor ads from groups not directly connected with the topic of the book then people would be less likely to say it was biased. The primary block would be the old problem of people’s resistance to change. I like the idea of hardcover with no ads and a paperback with ads because people already are familiar with and support magazines with ads.

  • http://davemartin.blogspot.com Dave Martin

    Jeff,

    Fine idea. Perhaps you will remember the work of Chris Whittle in the late 1980s when he launched publications with a single sponsor. One or more signature sponsors could be designed into the various versions and editions of your book (e.g., one sponsor for your hardcover the same or another for your softcover, audio, PDF download, Kindle, et al). As to specific sponsors, The Economist? Amazon’s Kindle? American Express? Fidelity? BMW? FedEx? Accenture?

  • http://harryhelmsblog.blogspot.com/ Harry

    Book sponsorship has been going on in the technical and professional field since the 1970s. Well-respected publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, John Wiley, etc., have published books sponsored by technical companies like Texas Instruments, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, and Intel. Such sponsorship typically involves a purchased of enough copies of the book to guarantee the book will be profitable for the publisher. (Now that I think about it, every book published by Microsoft Press is “sponsored” by Microsoft!)

    Given the deteriorating economics of trade book publishing, some form of sponsorship makes a lot of sense.

  • ben

    A small amount of advertising might be ok but I would rather pay a couple of dollars more to get a copy without. I would especially hate it if the Sponsor was mentioned throughout the text… “Now take your Spencer’s All-Natural Wood Slime and apply it generously over the entire length of the piece. In fact, use two cans.”

    I feel that advertising can be a scourge that should not be put everywhere just because there is space/time/eyes. If the ads were utilitarian – such as the aforementioned bookmarks – it could offset the offensiveness and actually give the ad more value.

  • http://yochicago.com Joe Zekas

    If I recall correctly the great Chris Whittle once had a publishing division that produced advertiser-sponsored books. These were relatively short volumes on big issues by well-known authors.

    I remember thinking that this was a great idea and felt a lot of goodwill toward the sponsors, without any questions about their impact on the integrity of the views in the books. The reputation of the authors made any concerns seem churlish and irrelevant.

    Major media companies should line up to sponsor your book. They’d gain goodwill by doing so. Hey, how about pitching Craig Newmark?

  • http://www.downdb.net Pete

    D. says:

    “As an alternative option, maybe, such as publishing a limited-run, ad-supported paperback of the book simultaneously with the initial (ad-free) hardcover printing.”

    I would submit that the ad-supported model would work better for something like an early-release ebook or audiobook.

    A big difference between books and magazine articles is that whereas books are a one-shot deal, magazines are both ephemeral and recurring. Advertisers buying space in a book would know it’s a one-shot deal, whereas with magazine ads, they have the opportunity to reach consumers on a monthly or weekly basis, and can tailor their ads accordingly.

    Instead of trying to get sponsors to purchase ad-space in a book, how about giving me the chance to read the text online with ads, or to stream ad-supported audio? This is a known working model, as opposed to sticking some ads in a book, which seems like a crapshoot for all parties involved.

  • http://blog.telarideas.com/ Jose Arocha

    Hi Jeff,

    As I mentioned in my twitter: How about we the crowd that cares about your ideas being the sponsors of your book? I am in with my micro sponsorship of $25.

    I know little of the publishing world. But quickly reading the comments above, i think a model like this would help you keep control over content, provide a better readership experience to your audience, support alike bloggers and micropublishers aligned with your ideas, create a network effect of these ideas by virtue of the sponsorship links and seed the marketing of the book to increase sales and reach.

    Jose

  • Tom Wolper

    The first obstacle (meaning it can be overcome) is that major corporations commission books and a publisher has to figure out how to make the difference obvious between a commissioned book and a sponsored book.

    The second obstacle concerns the durability of books. Nobody buys a weekly magazine after the week it comes out. Advertising rates can be set for sales in the window of a week. A book can sit on the shelves for two years and then be recommended on Oprah and sell like crazy.

    Another consideration is this: let’s say you wrote your book ten years ago and you got Enron to be your sponsor. As books are durable, you can’t remove their advertising from library copies or early editions available as used books and you, as an author, can be tied to their reputation.

    After dealing with those obstacles/considerations, if you can use a sponsorship to bring down the price of a trade paperback, I’m all for it. Advertising has become ubiquitous anyway and the public won’t think twice if the back of a book has an ad rather than a bunch of blurbs about this or another of the author’s books. Of course, the idea of lowering prices by accepting advertising might end up like basic cable, where you pay a subscriber fee and still get more commercials than anybody should sit through. The publisher might accept a sponsorship or advertising and raise margins rather than lower prices.

  • sue

    Advertisers do not “sponsor.” publications. They might “sponsor” a cause or charitable or community event. Advertising in magazines, + newspapers is bought based on a guaranteed circulation –people pay to subscribe to these publications and advertisers base their CPM on how many eyes have been audited and verified to see a specific publication. Magazines and Newspapers spend a great deal of money researching their demographics so that advertisers can make qualified Ad buys.

    The model that you are speaking is of is far more relatable to the independent film industry where you maybe can guarantee a distribution channel, and talent, but thats about all. You can not guarantee the number of viewers ever. Perhaps you should be thinking along those lines where producers find the backing for a project and those backers pay money for all the production and talent costs and then they get a cut of the profits in return.

  • Mike G

    Does someone have a stake I can drive into this idea’s heart?

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Mike G,
    Why? Elaborate, please. Ethics? Aesthetics? Influence? NPR has sponsors, why not books? Just asking, remember….

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Sue, utterly different model, you’re right, but interesting: Should books have investors?

  • Mike G

    Two big problems.

    One, it’s just ad creep into one more part of our lives. Okay, I’m a hypocrite for saying that, I half work in that business. Still, the book isn’t broken, I don’t need Pepsodent or Dell intruding into Jane Austen. Or Mario Puzo (“Sonny’s murder at the Jersey tollway is brought to you by Geico”). (Of course, paperbacks in the 70s did have ads in the back a lot of the time; that seems to have died out, though.)

    The other, and perhaps more practically hardheaded, is: it’s one thing to be a writer for a sponsored magazine. There’s at least some distance there. It’s another to be a writer who has a sponsor. This is a problem for blogs, podcasts, all kinds of things. But how will you possibly avoid tailoring what you write about and what you advocate when you, the starving underpaid writer, know that Pepsi or Cisco is dangling a check over your head, and that it may go away depending on what you turn out to think?

  • Mike G

    I think this is actually a big problem that we’re only starting to answer. I’m very conscious of it at the moment because I started a video podcast (Sky Full of Bacon) and I’d love to have a sponsor, but I very much fear the effects of getting one. By definition, anyone who’d want to sponsor it has to be close enough in terms of content to be compromising on some level– or to some part of my audience. Where I think there’s an opportunity is for some larger media co. to be the intermediary– place your sponsors on my podcast, keep a chunk of whatever pittance that’s worth, and I keep some distance in return for giving up some cash. That could work, but if I have to go out and sell a sponsor, well hell, from that moment on I lose my objectivity.

  • sue

    next you’ll be talking about product placement in books!

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    On a dark and stormy night, I was typing on my Dell computer, staring into the space past my Samsung monitor, waiting for my iPhone to ring. All I could hear was the squishy, nervous tapping of my Nike Triax shoes on my Ikea wood floor as the Westinghouse bulb above my head flickered and the PSE&G power went out (but surely not for long). Damn. I took a swig of my Bud Lite and a deep draw on my Newport. [Scratch the cig; menthols are illegal and so is tobacco advertising. I’ll arrange a refund – ED] I couldn’t bear it any longer. I jumped up, finding my way to the closet with my Sears flashlight, and put on my Barney’s windbreaker. I braved the dark and the cold and jumped in my Saab, my Sirius Satellite Radio blaring, as I went to find her…..

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    Last December, Scott Karp brought this issue up and I chimed in. Advertising-supported book publishing has been around — and a close relative, branded or licensed book publishing is a rather big industry. For example, I recently purchased the “Black & Decker” Carpentry Guide for Home Owners. Many software products license their brands to publishers, i.e., the Official Guide to Acme 2.3. As I mention in the linked-to post, FedEx once sponsored a series of books sent to CEOs. Books are merely a publishing platform. Any business model works. If the writer and reader can live with it, some publisher will be happy to try anything.

  • Mike G

    You joke about it Jeff, but there’s a whole school of modern realist novelists injecting brand names all over their books. They’re doing it to comment on our materialistic society or some such, but it’s a short step from there to… just doing it.

  • Tom Wolper

    @Mike G: sponsors will care more about the demographics of the readers than they will about the books’ content (unless the book denigrates the sponsor, of course). I was at a workshop listening to a consultant talk about fundraising. He was organizing a conference and he went to Anheuser-Busch to offer them a sponsorship. I’ll add the obvious here: the conference had nothing to do with beer. The A-B community relations people asked about the number and demographics of attendees and based on that data agreed to be sponsors. That meant their logo would be on all the promotional materials. They never asked for speaking time or to place any advertising. I assume a book sponsorship would be similar.

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  • http://thenumerati.com steve baker

    Funny you should bring this up: everyone in my biz is busy fleeing the ad-based economy, moving to Bloomberg, McKinsey, etc…But my concern would be that the books would take on this ethical and aesthetic baggage, and that neither the author nor the readers would benefit. It would just bolster the publishers’ margins, and help them hedge risk. Now that’s a benefit. But then I worry that they would begin to evaluate proposals on ad potential–and those of us who are suffering from this dynamic in MSM are back in the same game.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Aw, come on, Mike, take the joke. Party pooper.

  • http://www.tomatom.come Ed

    Yes take ads. And then allow your sponsor to run those horrible dog-legs ads that are disruptive, great for him but awful for the reader. Then you could have post it notes on pages, another form of disruptive advertising that is great for the advertiser but awful for the reader that are popular on newspapers nowadays. Or those thick paper stock ads in glossy magazines that make it impossible to man handle.
    Can’t we keep one ad free zone? I’d pay more for it.

  • http://www.mariejavins.com Marie J

    What makes me squeamish is the idea that a book might be tempered in order to make it more appealing to potential advertisers. Plus I’m sick of being marketed to from all directions.

    But then there’s this: the publisher’s name is already all over the book. The book is already branded. A writer’s work has already been tempered and tampered with, for better or worse. In a way, each non-self-published book is already “sponsored.”

    Some writers have marvelous relationships with their publishing houses. Others feel compromised. They’ve had to make concessions to get the “brand” (and distribution) on their book. To become published. To get the perceived legitimacy that a publisher offers.

    I’m not really prepared to defend this; just a thought.

  • janice

    underwear.

  • Late to the party

    The ubiquity of ads especially in the US is detestable and warps the woof of our lives (sorry). I pay (lots) for ad-free electronic media and I hope I don’t have to pay more for ad-free books. NPR was a lot more interesting before its large contributors were deep-pocketed trans nationals. Please, don’t.

  • http://www.thefutureofjournalism.org.au Jonathan Este

    Fay Weldon’s 2001 novel, The Bulgari Connection, was underwritten by a reported Pounds 18,000 from the jeweller and gave us such – ahem – gems as this, when a mogul buys his wife an £18,000 sweetener, “a sleek modern piece, a necklace, stripes of white and yellow gold, but encasing three ancient coins, the mount following the irregular contours of the thin worn bronze”.

    Apparently Weldon gave Bulgari three times the contracted number of product placements. Her comment: “Just explain to me why it is more contemptible to be paid by an Italian jewellery firm than by HarperCollins? It’s still money.”

    I’ve not read it, but judging by the comments on Amazon, it was pretty well received. Makes me feel a little seasick, though…

  • Kommentator

    Hi Jeff,

    maybe your ads in books modell might work in the US. I am sure there are other countries it would most likely not work, since books are treated very differently in different cultures.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but from my observation paperbacks in the US are often treated as “read once and throw away products”. They are usually printed on very thin and rather low quality paper and after you read a book you sort of have “used it up”.

    In Germany i. e. – which is the 2nd largest book market in the world – paperbacks are treated just like hardcover books. Printed on thick quality paper, stored on the shelf in your living-room. (Did you know that people here unconciously equate the thickness of a book to its value? That is why publishers print paperbacks on extra thick paper – to make them look more valuable). So, most people see books as something very personal and valuable – which makes them less price sensitive. A lot of people would not want such a personal item spoiled by ads – which is a reason why most experiments in these directions which where undertaken in the past have failed.

    In conclusion in Germany I only see limited space for ads in books – that is where the price of the book is the central argument (Maybe very expensive ones like scientific publications that students have so by during college or, in opposite, very cheap ones where people do not really care what they read).

    If you do wanna offer a book with ads you definately have to offer a second (and slightly more expensive) version without ads. The risk of alienating passionate readers with ads in what many would consider “a save haven” in a ad spoiled world would be way to big. Offering two versions of one paperback would nevertheless create a problem in logistics (maybe not at Amazon but in traditional book stores and chains where most books are still sold today).

    I think any publishing company would take a high risk if it tried to get their loyal readers to get used to ads in books.

  • Steve Hochschild

    As a teen, I loved reading the James Bond series, and a big part of that was the branding. Dunhill, Beretta, Leica, Bentley, Aston-Martin, all these and more were fundamental to the character, and actually, to my character as well, as impressionable as I was…

  • Tom B.

    Something else to chew on, if you knew beforehand (say through amazon preorders linked on your blog) that the reader knew of the author’s work, then the ads might be different or more targeted. Magazines already print different ads based on the customer profile of the subscriber.

    Which brings up another question. Who has the customer profile info, you or Amazon? Or both?

    Then, you have a whole other set of ads for the “buy in the bookstore” crowd, where you can’t tell beforehand, outside of broad demographics, who is buying your book.

    One final thought, Kindle/ebooks will be making this whole process a lot more dynamic.

  • http://whatmattersonline.com David Cohen

    This assumes, of course, that advertisers actually want to sponsor books. It’s difficult to sell out if no one is buying. The fact is that the vast majority of books are probably unsponsorable because they sell in numbers too small to register or to audiences that are too hard to measure. Unless and until a consolidator comes along and does for publishing what Double-Click did for the Internet, the vast majority of authors and publishers simply do not have the option. To think that publishers have shunned sponsorship all these years out of a lofty sense of purpose is naive. And to think that sponsorship doesn’t subtly affect content is equally naive. Sponsorship is very hard to get — I speak from experience — and often requires subtle compromise. At this point at least most sponsored books must be built for the purpose and most authors ruminating about this sort of income stream are assuming demand probably does not exist.

  • http://www.allthingskolja.com/blog Kolja

    Hi Jeff,

    reading your post, I had the same doubts in mind as the other fellow commenter from Germany. I used to manage a discount bookstore where we sold paperbacks for less than a Euro. Still, customers who had bought the same book twice frequently wanted to exchange them. Because they couldn’t stand the thought of throwing away a book. I can see the idea working in a very limited section of the market, but especially for your type of book – no way, especially not in Germany.

    Another point is the longevitiy of books. Nothing looks more out of touch than old advertising. Which companies knows what their marketing strategy will be in five years? why put an ad in something that might be around as long? the only advertising in German books, which were aimed at a wider audience, is for state issued bonds – because they last for 20+ years, just as the book.

    I do like the idea of providing bookmarks with ads, however this isn’t a particularly new concept.

  • scott

    Product placement already happens, someone above mentions Fay Wheldon and Bulgari. Ford have also done it. More details in this article:
    http://www.marketingvox.com/ford_uk_mounts_novel_multimedia_product_placement_campaign-015635/

  • Steve Sergeant

    http://adbusters.org/
    ‘Nuff said.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    That’s not enough said, it says nothing.

    Don’t want ads? Then you don’t want any professionally supported media. You want media that will charge people high rates for content, exactly counter to the dynamics of the link economy.

    Cant and claptrap.

  • Steve Sergeant

    Snarky jabs don’t make good blog responses. I need to be reminded of this occasionally. As someone wrote on Digg, “Sarcasm and irony do not Digg well.”

    I was amused by your comment http://buzzmachine.com/2008/08/03/sponsors-for-my-book/#comment-380182 because that is my nightmare for all future media. Nobody will ever be safe again from consumerism.

    I interviewed a Piute medicine man from near Reno, Nevada. He pointed out that when he was born in the late 1920s, he and his peers needed to know the names and uses of over 500 plants, they had to learn their way around hundreds of square miles of land without maps. Instead his grandchildren know perhaps fewer than 50 plants, but they can identify several hundred brands and corporate logos. I felt a lot of sympathy for his sadness over the human race’s disconnection from the real world as he called it (versus the man-made, artificial world).

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  • Chris Dillon

    Hi Jeff,

    I sold a single, four-color ad on the inside back cover of a book (Landed: The expatriate’s guide to buying and renovating property in Hong Kong / http://www.landed.hk) that I self-published.

    The ad appeared only in the first print run, and the real estate agency that bought the ad also received an allotment of books that they gave to clients and prospects.

    The real estate agency had no editorial control or input. Unlike Rick Smolan’s work, however, they were mentioned in the text, along with their competitors.

    Before I sold the ad, I was concerned about how people would react. The book is now in its second printing, and I have not had any complaints from readers, my distributor or from public and university libraries, which have also bought copies.

    Selling an ad made it economically feasible for me to write and publish my first book — on a decidedly niche subject — and I would do it again.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions that your readers might have. (My email address can be found at http://www.landed.hk)

  • Johan Hjelm

    I remember buying an old pocketbook (from the 60’s, a DAW pocket I think), which had advertising (cigarettes) in the middle. Colour inserts. Of course, they were sold in supermarkets.

    But that is not where you are going, I guess.

    About why advertising in books and magazines: The advertiser wants to reach a demographic to establish a brand. Since you have no control over the time of consumption of the ad in relation to the sales opportunity for the product, advertising in magazines is necessarily branding. This means you want to make yourself known to people who are potential buyers (or who you want to be potential buyers). Advertisements is just one way, product placement is another (regardless of the medium). Problem with books is that they are a one-off, not a regular demographic, so you can not really make an estimate about how many readers the advertiser will reach (which is what they pay for). Makes you wonder why they do not sell ads in the SECOND edition, because then you know the book has taken off, and people would buy it regardless…

    It is not at all unusual for books to be paid for publications, but the name of the publisher and the author may work as some kind of guarnatee that there is no editorial control, which is the crucial thing – also to attract the demographic of interest. Selling sponsored editions is nothing unusual (in Sweden, there were several publishing houses making a good living out of this, when I was working there). And of course, it already happened with textbooks for universities (www.freeloadpress.com/ ). The question is how small the number can be made to be profitable (print is the expense – will be interesting to see how Kindle and print-on-demand changes this) – and how you could sell to another company, when you put Google in the title….

    By the way, Ian Fleming was using the brands of products which were associated with luxury and sleekness to establish the character of James Bond. Once done, that led to others being willing to associate their brands with the character (think mobile phones, which did not exist when Bond started….)

    Hope this helps.
    //Johan

  • TRAVOLTA SHAKUR

    Am also a book writer looking for a sponsor . I will love to see one who can help me in my nice books i write.I write love stories and poems and dark stories.

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  • Hugo Pickering (tweet: aitchpeeone)

    It would seem to be quite feasible to have two versions of a book (one with and one without ads). Perhaps the ads could simply be carried on one or more tear-out bookmark pages as others have suggested. Just like you have opened up the debate here, give readers a bit of choice in the consumption of advertising and they may repay you well.

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  • http://www.sunnywatches.com Harry

    In my opinion you already gave the answer in WWGD. I am reading about this blog-post in your book. For most chapters it should be pretty easy to find sponsors that are looking for similar interaction. Challenge professional readers by offering (sponsored) cases. Since WWGD has been translated in various languages it would be nice to have some national focus with this.

  • http://www.myliterarycoach.com MyLiteraryCoach

    Jeff,
    I have read your blog post, but not all of the 50 (so far) replies. You use both sponsorship and ads in your post. I would distinguish the two.

    Many authors have a host of sponsorships for projects–ways that others have contributed toward the writing of the manuscript. Ads are a specific form of sponsorship that not only wants its name displayed, but hopes to garner some notice or action on the part of the viewer (usually some purchase or usage).

    For a long time, publishers used to post on any blank pages at the back their own ads for similar, prior books. Eventually, authors asserted in their agreements the right to review these ads (in case the author didn’t agree with the book advertised) and the practice ended.

    Tim

    I think that sponsorships (direct and indirect) will continue.

  • Victoria

    The times are changing and so is publishing. Check out this new book at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/josephgutiz/the-adventures-of-chubby-cheeks-the-pro-quest?ref=live
    Here the author offers rewards in exchange for pledges in order to publish his children’s book.  The awards go as far as advertising or dedicating a scene or character for the appropriate sponsor.  The times are changing and the only way for survival is innovation!

  • gary smith

    I just finished my book and the cost is too much for me.Yes i am looking for a brake in the industry and for someone to help with the cost. I just finished a fiction novel and on to a sequel to the first book please help me Thanks……….gary

  • L Englert

    One of the most sought after treasures in the modern
    era valued at over xxxx located in Seychelles but Government refuses to
    recover.

    Late in 2012, after extensive investigation and
    approval to recover granted by the Govt of Seychelles, me and my recovery team,
    being less than 2 metres from recovery were stopped from completing the
    excavation. The reason given was because it was in a National Park. They knew
    that from the beginning and they still gave me a contract to excavate. Why did
    they not let me finish it? That’s an answer I would like to know.

    The Cross of Goa and a fortune in religious artifacts,
    including diamonds, rubies and other precious stones and gold bars that were stolen
    in 1725 by Oliver La Vasseur from the Viceroy of India has had thousands of
    people searching for its location with only a cryptogram and sparse pieces of
    information to lead the way.

    With a vision to let the world know about such a
    finding, the benefit that this would bring to the Seychelles’ economy is
    endless. There is not only the history itself that comes with the treasure but
    also the tourism industry that would benefit from such a finding.

    I have written a book about my 7 years adventure, with lots of pictures and proof. I spent all my savings with the research and excavation works and now my funds have run out and I find myself with all this information that I cannot benefit even from my book. Can someone please help me with publishing my book to show it to the world before someone steals the treasure. Please, please, please. Thank you.

  • JOSE

    HEY I’M JUST FINISHED WRITTEN MY BOOK BUT I DON’T HAVE MORE MONEY TO PUBLISHING,

  • Ezika Donbosco

    Hello dear friends, My name is Donbosco, i live in Malaysia and i have two books ready for publication but i do not have money left in me. The first book is on Tourism, travels and tour guide titled, VISIT MALAYSIA and the second book is on Religious and Inspirational titled AGE OF THE BEAST…..my mobile number is +601126205448 and i will be ready to send you synopsis of the two books for your recommendation and possible assistant for me. my email is ezikadonbosco@yahoo.com.