According to this article in The Oregonian, ad placement in books is becoming more commonplace all the time and we, as readers, have some decisions to make. Will we tolerate this kind of thing or does it tell us something about the authors who prostitute themselves this way that turns us off their books forever?
...until 2002 -- when Fay Weldon accepted money from the Italian jeweler Bulgari to title her novel "The Bulgari Connection," books had been the exception to the product placement rule....
Recently, product placement has found its way into kids' books. Two young adult novels -- "Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233" and the Mackenize Blue series -- have drawn attention for the product placement between their pages.
The authors of "Cathy's Book," Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, exchanged their character promoting Cover Girl makeup for ads on Cover Girl's Web site. The author of the upcoming Mackenzie Blue series, Tina Wells, the CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, is seeking corporate sponsorship for her books.
At Annie Bloom's Books, owner Bobby Tichenor has a strong stance on product placement in books. "We have a policy against buying children's books about products predominantly," she said....
Tichenor said product placement "cheapens books." But books have been slowly devalued far longer than the recent trend of product placement. Deep discounts at major bookstores and new and moderately popular authors receiving smaller and smaller advances while a few brand-name authors reap millions are far more detrimental to the value of books.
As writers fight over meager freelance dollars and nonroyalties from their poorly marketed and poorly selling books, it's possible that the only people who value the written word are advertisers. Tichenor said readers will see more product placement, "if it works." It may not work for the reader, but it certainly works for the author as a much-needed and deserved added income. And why shouldn't authors take advantage? Everyone else is doing it.Was Fay Weldon wrong to sell her book title to Bulgari? I haven't read the book so I can't say how much Bulgari was mentioned in the pages of the book and whether or not it turned into a paid commercial for the company. Hopefully, the commercial only went as far as the title of the book, but I doubt it.
Interestingly, the author of this newspaper article is a YA author herself and, as the last paragraph I quoted shows, she seems to be in favor of milking this new cash cow as much and as quickly as possible. "Everyone is doing it"? I quit accepting that excuse from my children by the time they were five years old and it sounds ludicrous coming from the mouth of an adult. I find that attitude to be repulsive and will never take any author seriously who sells out that way. Now, perhaps Ms. Lion is only giving a satirical tongue-in-cheek argument in defense of this trend; if so, I apologize for misunderstanding her intent.
But I don't doubt for a minute that a substantial number of authors will be willing to prostitute their work to the highest bidder. OK, now we know what to call them...we just don't know how much they charge for their service.