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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Should literature and sponsorship mix?
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.

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.

What next? Mary Shelley's Frankenstein sponsored by biotechnology giant Monsanto?

What suggestions can you come up with for book sponsorship deals? Should literature and sponsorship mix?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Fay Weldon has merely cast doubt upon herself

Paul Hollander, San Francisco, USA
With all due respect to Dr. Johnson, we write to create a text of not only instrumental value, but of intrinsic value as well. Where we draw the line between the two is determined by our ability, our creativity and our integrity. Fay Weldon has merely cast doubt upon herself.
Paul Hollander, San Francisco, USA

It's not exactly new, though, to have product placement in the title. Wasn't there a book and film once called 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' ?
Barry, UK

Tolkein must be kicking himself for not getting in touch with H. Samuel for Lord of the Rings.
Jenni, Bristol, England

Personally, when I read a book I don't want to come across adverts. I would be forced to skip them, as with TV ads during which I press the 'mute' button, and that would ruin the story!
Jane, London, UK


I look forward to Carroll's Alice in Golden Wonderland

Tim Vernon, UK
I look forward to reading new editions of Carroll's Alice in Golden Wonderland, Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Kit Kats and the subliminal Douglas Adams' Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Bar.
Tim Vernon, UK

I don't see the difference between sponsorship for literature and sponsorship for other arts. Surely the only thing that matters is whether the resulting work is good enough to be read or otherwise enjoyed. Besides, isn't a publishing deal sponsorship of a kind?
David Hazel, UK

Ad-free space in Western culture is disappearing by the minute, but we're not fighting very hard to win it back. Where to draw the line? People generally feel that advertising in schools is a bad thing, but what if a 'sponsored' book makes it on to the English syllabus? Is it still art, or is just long-winded advertising?
Emma, UK

Fay Weldon is thought to have become the first author to be paid for product placement in a book - I think you mean 'the first to admit being paid'. I bet it's been happening for years...
Bob H, Lincs, UK

A few Shakespeare titles - how about "Hamlet", sponsored by Hamlet? "Much Ado About Nothing", sponsored by Big Brother? Anne Robinson's "The Taming of the Shrew"? Or "A Comedy of Errors", brought to you by New Labour?
Neil M, UK


Sponsorship has always been a feature of arts from the days of patronage to this

Kevin Myers, Wales
What a fuss over nothing! Sponsorship has always been a feature of arts from the days of patronage to this - the Sistine Chapel, after all, still bears the name of the Pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint his frescoes; Shakespeare had a patron, and trying to dissociate any work of art from the culture of its time is both futile and unnecessary.
Kevin Myers, Wales

This is a lot more serious than people think - when humanity's creative instinct is sold out to companies and corporations whose very nature is exploitative and destructive, then our species has already surrendered one of its most valuable assets. This sets an ominous precedent.
Robert, England

Can we all quit the humorous response please? The honest truth is, art is being substituted in the name of money. To what depths will these writers plunge to sink its subliminal message? It happens with music. Artists are struggling, and the only thing at the forefront of the industry is the almighty dollar. Forgive me if I sound cynical. You wont think that way in 10 years or so
Chris Dalton, Widnes, England

I don't see any problem with sponsorship in books, mainly because I don't believe corporations will see literature as a viable marketing tool. At the risk of sounding elitist, those people who read good literary fiction are not going to be fooled into going out and buying a chocolate bar just because somebody in the book does so. And people whose only reading material comes with the author's name embossed in huge gold letters on the front cover are going to be more easily led by television and poster advertising anyway.
Matt Clifton, USA


This is another example of culture being replaced by advertising

Eyes, UK
This is another example of culture being replaced by advertising. And what about censorship? Would she have been allowed to discuss human rights atrocities in Sierra Leone and their links to the diamond trade or about environmental destruction caused by gold mines in Indonesia and else where?
Eyes, UK

It doesn't take a big leap of the imagination for Rowntree to sponsor Anthony Burgess' great novel - "A Chocolate Orange".
Kate Vernon, UK

Ann Widdecombe could have sponsored "Heart Of Darkness".
Richard Archer, UK

Heart of Darkness sponsored by McDonalds.
Coming Up For Air sponsored by BAT.
The Big Sleep sponsored by Slumberland.
Long Walk To Freedom sponsored by Reebok.
Remembrance of Things Past sponsored by the Tory Party.
The Female Eunuch sponsored by Shake 'n' Vac.
I'm sorry. I'll stop now.
Steve Ekins, England

The Ministry of Agriculture IS sponsoring "The Silence of the Lambs".
Paul, USA

Bleak House by Wimpey.
Kathy, UK

Group 4 could sponsor the book "A Clockwork Orange".
Jim, UK


Dr. Johnson said it best - "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money"

Gifford Maxim, USA
If Weldon is walking away with a modest packet for her courtship with commercialism, I say more power to her. Dr. Johnson said it best - "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."
Gifford Maxim, USA

The Octopus, sponsored by Time/Warner.
Robert del Valle, USA

How about a rewrite of "Billy Liar" by Jeffrey Archer?
Simon Ashall, UK

The "arts" have a long history of private sponsorship - just look at how much of Mozart's music was commissioned by members of the nobility. I see nothing wrong with "product placement" being extended from movies and TV into the world of written fiction - writing is just another business, after all.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

There is an old joke, the punch line of which is: "We've already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over your price."
William Sanders, US

Cider with Rosie - sponsored by Strongbow.
Karl, UK


It is not product placement. It is a brilliant advertising campaign

J M Lore, USA
Fay Weldon was commissioned by Bulgari to write the book. She was not approached to add product placement to a work in progress. It is akin to the BMW movies. Without the product, the book (movie) would not have been conceived. It is not product placement. It is a brilliant advertising campaign.
J M Lore, USA

Dental floss in Jaws
Dave Wright, UK

It is up to the author to decide as they have put all the hard work into writing the book.
Basa, UK

Without question it should be. Perhaps it will then broaden the opportunity for more budding writers than the narrow minded avenues currently available.
Macca, England

Bret Easton Ellis could have made a fortune.... or never written a book
John Papps, England

Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" sponsored by Railtrack
Andrew Cover, UK

1984 rewrite sponsored by New Labour.
P, UK

Brave New World, sponsored by Disney
Lee, Gilderland

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Arts
Weldon's sparkling book deal
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