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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Weldon's sparkling book deal
Fay Weldon
Weldon: "They never give me the Booker prize anyway"
Fay Weldon is thought to have become the first author to be paid for product placement in a book after signing a deal with an Italian jewellery firm.

Weldon's latest work had originally been due to be distributed only to Bulgari's 750 best clients - but publishers have decided they like it so much it will get a full public release.

Send us your suggestions for product placements in classic books

Weldon, who was paid a "not huge" amount of money to mention Bulgari 12 times, has titled her book The Bulgari Connection and the company gets at least three dozen name checks.

The book is great fun. It is a proper novel in its own right. People are being awfully pious

Giles Gordon
Fay Weldon's agent
"When the approach came through I thought, 'Oh no, dear me, I am a literary author. You can't do this kind of thing, my name will be mud forever'," Weldon told the New York Times.

"But after a while I thought, 'I don't care. Let it be mud'. They never give me the Booker prize anyway."

The finished novel, which has been described as "a romping tale of love, lust, covetousness and gold", features one scene set in the Bulgari shop in London.

The Bulgari Connection
The Bulgari Connection will be released in October
Weldon describes in detail the 18,000 necklace that a businessman buys for his wife.

The protaganist picks a "sleek modern piece, a necklace, stripes of white and yellow gold, but encasing three ancient coins, the mount flowing the irregular contours of thin, worn bronze".

Weldon's agent, Giles Gordon, says the literary world should not regard the work as having been compromised.

"The book is great fun. It is a proper novel in its own right. People are being awfully pious," he said.

"There is a difference between a company like Bulgari approaching an author and saying, 'We want you to write us a book mentioning our name in return for a commission' and an author like Fay going to a company with her begging bowl and saying, 'I like your jewellery and I will write you something'."

If Bulgari pay some money and she writes a terrific book and they subliminally buy their jewellery, then bully for Bulgari

Giles Gordon
Fay Weldon's agent
Weldon was approached by a "very clever" product placement expert who had already secured exposure for Bulgari's products in several films, Mr Gordon said.

"He thought Fay Weldon would be an ideal author to approach and he was absolutely right. She is always up for new things and doesn't take herself too seriously.

"I can't see Salman Rushdie, Jeanette Winterson, Martin Amis or most other novelists doing it but I think Fay was a brilliant choice."

The deal could be the publishing industry's first step to the level of product placement seen in the film industry, he said.


"If Bulgari pay some money and she writes a terrific book and they subliminally buy their jewellery, then bully for Bulgari."

Weldon has written more than 20 books, including Wicked Women, The Cloning of Joanna May, and The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

She was made a CBE in the latest New Year's honours.

The Bulgari Connection will be released in the UK by Flamingo, which is part of HarperCollins, on 15 October.

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The BBC's Jo Episcopo
"It has sparked off a furious debate"
Fay Weldon
"I find it very difficult to say no"
Literary editor of the Times Erica Wagner
"I think they would do better buying space on advertising hoardings"

Book deal
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