September 11, 2012

Ad-free books are not impossible in the age of Amazon, just expensive


Amazon released its latest slate of Kindles last week, and while the new products featured a handful of very nice features—including an 8.8mm thick bell and a hot new 4G LTE whistle—two models caused a bit of controversy by initially featuring ads from which users could not opt out.

The new Kindle Fire and Fire HD models of all sizes came with software such that the “lock screen” featured mandatory ads. After a bit of displeased media coverage, Amazon has since reversed course, saying that users will indeed be able to opt out of the advertising by paying a fifteen dollar surcharge.

While we at MobyLives have perhaps had a bit of fun (and/or apoplexy) with Amazon in the past, we also pride ourselves on seeing the writing on the wall. If Amazon is willing to take this bold step, then it behooves us to follow along, at least before the DOJ decides to make us. That’s why we, too are announcing a new series of opt-out payment schemes which we hope will satisfy all of our readers.

Beginning this fall, readers will be allowed to pay us a mere twenty dollars if they’d like to opt out of the product placement in the text of our Neversink Library series. Worried about the anachronism of a character savoring that delicious Taco Bell gordita in a brothel in inter-war Barcelona? Pay up and worry no longer.

Maybe you’re not concerned by the product placement, but really wish I would stop putting Lisa Frank stickers on the interior pages of your hard-bitten crime novels? First, what is your problem, unicorns are amazing! That one there is named Mister Sassy McSparklehooves. Second, okay, ten bucks and they’re gone.

Maybe you’re a reader of e-books, but find it distracting when the pages of our novellas are momentarily replaced with cryptic commands you can never quite make out, and then last week you woke up in Guadalajara with someone else’s shirt on, a bus station locker key in your left pocket, and a ragged scar across your belly? Fifty bucks turns off the subliminals. For now.

Lastly—and this one is the hardest for me—if for some strange reason you’d like me to stop coming over to your house and snuggling up beside you whenever you open one of our books and whispering the tagline for the latest hilarious Adam Sandler movie into your ear, or perhaps the slogan for a shampoo brand you might like—this one has ylang ylang in it!—then fine, just say so. I mean, I thought we had something special going, I really did. But that’s fine, maybe my mother was right about you. It’s okay. It is. No, I’m not crying. Let me just find my toothbrush and I’ll go. If you can’t handle a little intimacy then I don’t need to be here. I get it! I’m leaving. After you pay me thirty dollars.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.