Amazon has announced that it plans to sell ad space on the Kindle welcome screen. This makes me so insensibly angry I'd punch my Kindle if I hadn't left it at home.
In 2012, the notion that Americans can quibble with an increasingly corporatized landscape feels hopelessly recherche. George Saunders hasn't even published anything in half a decade! In the age of Occupy, it seems both quaint and indulgent for those who can afford a Kindle to worry about a screen saver. But for god's sake, how much are readers expected to take?
Product placement in books is, sadly, nothing new. But if you are a sensible person who likes decent books, you can easily avoid reading anything with product placement. Soon enough, when you download that copy of No Logo, you'll be prone to some advertisement. And this is so, so wrong! Reading should be an exchange between author and reader, not author, reader and advertiser. Sure, publishers and devices mediate the reading experience, but this is much worse.
Imagine ads based on the books you download. Imagine buying Infinite Jest and getting an ad for Depend Adult Undergarments based on an algorithm. Or maybe they'll be more astute -- as my friend wrote on Facebook,"Cialis Presents: 50 Shades of Grey." How is this acceptable?
First they came for the independent bookstores. Then they came for
Borders because Amazon gave bigger discounts. Then they came for the
publishers because publishers were charging too much for ebooks. And now
they're coming for books themselves. How much more are readers expected to put up with?