With the Apple iPad now released I thought I should finish the Epub version of my Green Technology Strategies book. One insight is that the Epub format used for iPad ebooks is just a type of canned web site. So it may be feasible to have advertisements, such as those for Google AdWords and Amazon.com embedded in an ebook.
When their ebook reader was connected to the Internet, the reader could click on an advertisement to connect to the advertiser's web site. This revenue might be enough to make many ebooks, magazines and newspapers available at no charge to the reader.
For those who do not like the idea of advertising being introduced into books, it has been there fore at least 100 years, as some Victorian era paperback books included advertising at the front and back.
Obviously there would be the issue of what to do when the reader is offline and where to put the ads on the small screen.
Another insight this brought was that e-books don't have back covers. I was designing the cover using Lulu.com's online tool and wondered why the button for creating the back cover was missing from the tool. It took me some time to realise that ebooks don't have back covers, in effect there is just the title page combined with the cover of the book. The promotional material which is usually on the back cover of a paperback, or the dust jacket of a hardback book is provided external to the book in the publisher's system.