Would you buy a Kindle ebook reader from Amazon if you received a free, ad-supported version of a book for each physical copy purchased? The U.S. Patent Office has published several Amazon patents in the past 30 days that could lead the online bookseller in that direction.
One co-inventor, Udi Manber, left Amazon for a gig as VP of engineering for search at Google. Filed December 2006 and granted last month, the patent would give consumers who purchase a print book an electronic copy of the physical version, too.
Two additional patents filed by Amazon, published July 2, describe incorporating targeted advertising in on-demand generated content. These patents, filed in Dec. 2007, provide an example for advertising on Kindle.
The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins. A cross-reference feature would add annotations, supplemental reference materials, and illustrations, as well as the ability to print on-demand paper copies in PDF and other format files. Kindle relies on Sprint to download content to the reader.
Bill Slawski, who has found a niche offering insight into patent filings on his blog, SEO by the Sea, says "it makes sense to follow a Web-based model if you have a fairly low-cost reading device that connects to the Internet."
Slawski says Amazon's patents claim several advantages to serving up ads to consumers. One such benefit considered has been a lower price for the book if the consumer agrees to view advertisements. On page 12 in the novel that describes a restaurant, for example, Kindle would serve up an ad on food or dinning in the margin. If the novel takes place in Europe, the advertisements might relate to European hotels and resorts. For those who have a profile, the ads could also tie into that information.
Tracking the ads would rely on bar codes or another type of numeric code placed on the ads. I would let advertisers know that people saw the ads and want to know more. The code might associate the code and the ad with a specific consumer if the person logs into the profile page. The patents also describe interacting with the ads to get more information.
Advertisers would need to provide additional information to Amazon, other than the ad, so it is shown in places relevant to the person ordering the book.
Google has an AdWords-type console that makes distribution of ads easy for TV and radio. The Mountain View, Calif. company could easily provide something similar for Sony's Reader Digital Book, Slawski says.