A Brief History of Advertisements in Books

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By Jason Boog Comment

bulgari.jpgYesterday GalleyCat readers discussed how DailyLit, the book-serialization website with 150,000 subscribers, brought advertisements to digital books.

GalleyCat readers reminded us that these ideas are hardly new. Peter Lebensold explained that “the earliest Penguin paperbacks (published for British servicemen during WWII) also had ads — for the likes of Gillette.”

Reader Andrew Wheeler wrote that “paperbacks from the ’60s and ’70s routinely had bound-in advertisements,” and reminded us that author Fay Weldon pioneered the art of novel product placement with her book, The Bulgari Connection. As reported in 2001, Weldon was paid by the Bulgari jewelry company to include the brand in her story.

Quoted in M.J. Rose’s an excellent Salon.com piece about the topic, Weldon defended the practice: “It always seemed to me that in advertising you were making up little stories and using language to sell products. And with novels you were making up little stories and using language to sell ideas. So for a while I sold products and then I moved on and sold ideas — like feminism. And now I’ve done a book that is mostly one but a little bit of the other.”

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