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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.
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' ?
Tolkein must be kicking himself for not getting in touch with H. Samuel for Lord of the Rings.
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!
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?
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?
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...
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?
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.
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
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.
It doesn't take a big leap of the imagination for
Rowntree to sponsor
Anthony Burgess' great novel - "A Chocolate Orange".
Ann Widdecombe could have sponsored "Heart Of Darkness".
Heart of Darkness sponsored by McDonalds.
The Ministry of Agriculture IS sponsoring
"The Silence of the Lambs".
Bleak House by Wimpey.
Group 4 could sponsor the book "A Clockwork Orange".
Gifford Maxim, USA
The Octopus, sponsored by Time/Warner.
How about a rewrite of "Billy Liar" by Jeffrey Archer?
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.
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."
Cider with Rosie - sponsored by Strongbow.
J M Lore, USA
Dental floss in Jaws
It is up to the author to decide as they have put all the hard work into writing the book.
Without question it should be. Perhaps it will then broaden the opportunity for more budding writers than the narrow minded avenues currently available.
Bret Easton Ellis could have made a fortune.... or never written a book
Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" sponsored by Railtrack
1984 rewrite sponsored by New Labour.
Brave New World, sponsored by Disney
04 Sep 01 | Arts
Weldon's sparkling book deal
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