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Microsoft patents contextual ads in e-books, whether we like it or not

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We have ad-supported e-reading today, but the ads always sit on the periphery at most. That makes us more than slightly nervous about a newly-granted Microsoft patent for contextual e-book ads. The development would make the pitch based on not just targeted pages but the nature of the book in question: a sci-fi novel might try to sell lightsabers, and characters themselves might slip into the ads themselves if there's a fit. Promos could be either generated on the spot or remain static. Before anyone mourns the end of unspoiled literature, just remember that having a patent isn't the same as using it -- Microsoft doesn't have its own dedicated reading app anymore, let alone any warning signs that it's about to pepper our digital libraries with marketing. If the Newco partnership results in copies of War and Peace bombarded with Black Ops II ads, though, we'll know where to place the blame.

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