The Seven Words That Will Kill Books

Who is buying e-readers? Not me, but paralegals, dietitians and iPod owners sure love ‘em

The infographic posted there has been popping up in my Twitterstream for a while but it’s only today and there that I finally looked at it.

And here are the seven deadly words that will kill books:


Because ads aren’t going to stop at the platform level.

I’m convinced that Amazon’s final goal is to make all books free with ads inserted in them.

That will be an absolute disaster for books and destroy the independence of writing and book culture.

Here is Rod Serling, best known as the creator of The Twilight Zone:

The early years of television were filled with growing pains, one of which was the ubiquitous nature of sponsors as editors and censors. Serling was often forced to change his scripts after corporate sponsors had read them and found something they felt was too controversial. Sponsors wanted no associations with anything that might make them look bad to buyers, so references to many modern social issues were omitted, as were references to anything that might compete commercially with any given sponsor. For instance, the line “Got a match?” was deleted because one of the sponsors for Requiem For A Heavyweight was Ronson lighters.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

If that still doesn’t turn on the light in your brain, here’s more:

Tired of seeing his scripts butchered in manners that removed any political statements, ethnic identities, and even the Chrysler Building being removed from a script sponsored by Ford

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

That is the devastating power of ad sponsorship.

Your work gets vetted by a sponsor’s legal and marketing department. People who have no damn business passing judgment on anything outside of law and moving products.

And they change things. Because lawyers are basically cowards and marketeers are basically pimps who see everyone else as whores.

When it comes to non-fiction, say, who’s going to advertise in a book revealing war atrocities our troops committed in foreign lands? Nobody.

When it comes to fiction, who’s going to advertise in a James Patterson book in which a character has a live snake inserted up their anus? You think PETA? You think anybody?

The entire purpose for writing a book will change.

Instead of it being a transaction between writer and reader — with, ideally, no interference from middlemen such as Amazon, Apple, etc (which is in itself a tank of steaming malodorous bullshit, as we’ve seen both Amazon and Apple pull books for sale) — the snouts of sponsors will have to be wooed with books that appeal to their limited sense of smell.

The endgame will be: What can’t get ads won’t get published.

Books will degrade into pabulum that say nothing but which make advertisers happy.

And what happens when the whores of books — who will be eager to insert American Idol-like levels of product placement — have their sponsors change? You bought an edition where the main character is drinking Coke. Someone else several years later has an edition where the protagonist drinks Pepsi like a fiend. Do you really want such tampering in books? That would be 1984 come to life (see what Harlequin did on its own, without any outside pressure!).

There is only one reason Amazon has turned to publishing.

It’s not because Jeff Bezos loves books. Bezos loves money.

And by having its own imprints, its own books, Amazon can use those as the beachhead for free ad-supported books.

And once Amazon does it, everyone else will jump in that Magic Christian pool of shit

… to grab for the floating dollars.

They’re getting it ready for you.

Previously here:

Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking


Filed under eBooks: General

5 responses to “The Seven Words That Will Kill Books

  1. Doktor Snake

    An important post for us all to bookmark in our minds and see if it proves prophetic, which I think it will do. On the bright side, it could be that Amazon fills up with the pimp junk…and the real writers move to new places and mediums. Most likely they’ll need other incomes, rather than writing, at first…but given time readers might drop the Amazon pimp junk and pay for the real writing.

    Pimp Bezos and the other corporate dogs might be in for a surprise…it may not go their way.

  2. And I’m just as convinced that Bezos KNOWS this will be the death of books and will not cross that line.

    You cannot compare TV and movies to books (in this particular case). There are orders of magnitude fewer alternatives to a TV show or movie vs. the millions of books published every year. If someone crosses that line, people will rebel and move on to books that have not crossed that line.

    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Amazon crossing that line becomes the moment they effectively die allowing a viable true competitor to emerge.

  3. Geoff

    You’re right, and this will happen, but not many folks will complain or even care.
    Brave New World’s coming. Orwell was wrong and Huxley was right. Mommy doesn’t scare anyone. Pass the Soma..

  4. This was an important and enlightening post for me. When I wrote about the unspoken contract between a book and its reader, my thoughts weren’t completely formed. This post helps me see things more clearly.

    Unfortunately, If you’re right, and I think it’s quite likely you are, you haven’t even gotten to half of it. Think merchandizing. Start with smart digital books and you’ll quickly go from product placements to the book as a purchase platform. One-click shopping. Want to buy Lisbeth Salander’s “I am also an alien” t-shirt? It’s just one click away. Grim.

    • mikecane

      That kind of thing has been the wet dream of TV marketeers too. Want to wear what Jennifer is wearing in this episode of FRIENDS? Click to buy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s