These days advertising is an inescapable fact of life, a shadow that follows you everywhere, staring down at you on the Tube or jumping out at you on the internet. Soon, it could be following you into your local library and popping out of its titles, after a number of councils agreed to a pilot scheme where thousands of adverts will be inserted in books.
By the middle of next year, libraries in places such as Leeds, Dorset, Somerset, Essex and Bromley, will receive around three million advertising inserts per month. This means that every time you borrow a book from your library, you will also get an insert.
What will this mean for our libraries? Well, apparently they will receive lots of extra revenue from it, which they undoubtedly need. But librarians themselves are less lucky: they will have their work cut out as they have to put the thousands of inserts inside the books by hand.
… which, in turn, will lead to a dramatic increase in paper cuts, which will no doubt be a boon to sterile bandage manufacturers, who no doubt are the shadowy evildoers behind the curtain, orchestrating the advertising in the first place.
I don’t know; I mean, is anyone surprised? Of course it’s disgusting, the ads leering from the back of the book – and worse is the slippery slope:
The real worry is that these inserts are just the thin end of the wedge. Imagine the horror of reading a book that is interrupted every 10 or 20 pages by a series of adverts. While such a dystopia seems unlikely for the time being, the idea of adverts in books should fill readers with unease.
Yes, well, it actually fills my head with ache, but we’re protesting the snow when there’s an avalanche coming. What are the options here? Boycott the library? TiVo for books? We need more than a shovel here. We don’t live in a world where the majority of people care enough about the obtrusiveness of advertising to do anything about it. Nor do we live in a world that cares enough about strong libraries to make such a desperate attempt to raise money unnecessary. Unless a Consortium of Heavyweight Authors (now there’s your graphic novel idea, right there!) comes together to protest, I don’t see the advertising juggernaut even being slowed down.