Product Placement and Books

The International Herald Tribune (yeah, I’m that well read) has a pretty interesting piece on the growing trend of product placement in books, especially in the teen lit world:

“Cover Girl, which is owned by the consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, has neither paid the publisher nor the book’s authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, for the privilege of having their makeup showcased in the novel. But Procter will promote the book on Beinggirl.com, a Web site directed at adolescent girls that has games, advice on handling puberty and, yes, makeup tips.”

This is not a really surprising move and it has definitely ruffled a few feathers – though with the saturated level of product placement in every other realm of teen life, I’m not sure why its presence in books is all that upsetting.

What is cooler is the idea of using the web to make books more interactive and multimedia driven.  As IHT notes of the upcoming “Cathy’s Book”:

“With “Cathy’s Book,” although Mr. Stewart has written a self-contained textual narrative, Mr. Weisman also created a series of clues that are included in a so-called evidence pack that will come with the book in a sealed plastic envelope filled with photos, post-it notes with phone numbers scrawled on them, pages from a date book, birth and marriage certificates and letters. There will also be a business card for a fictional “online consultant” at Beinggirl.com.

Hints to most of these documents are embedded in the novel, which also contains Web site addresses and phone numbers that readers can access for extra material. The telephone number on the book’s cover, for example, leads to an outgoing voicemail message from Cathy.”

I love this trend and think it can definitely make books and reading a continuing draw for young folks.  I also think this sort of approach could reinvigorate a somewhat flat area of publishing – Young Male Lit (or “dick lit” as some call it).

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