7.04.2006

Cathy's Book roundup

Not because this is really important, but because it's important that some people made a big case out if it, I present a round-up of articles about Cathy's Book, a new young adult novel coming out in fall.

NY Times article that sorta started everything
Adrant's posting of the letter from Commercial Alert. (check out the comments.)
www.beinggirl.com, the website that will promote the book.
A short entry about this from MIT Convergence Culture Consortium
Press Release from publisher
Pub Weekly pulling it all together
LA Times opinion piece by Jane Smiley (worth reading)
bookburger's mention of the article. So far, this is the only media I've found aimed at the book's core audience.
And finally, a CJR Daily piece that does as much reporting as the original Times article and does a good job at looking at how this is not that rare for the publishing industry.

I have two problems with those calling for a boycott or blacklist of the product.

1) The book always was shilling products. Before the agreement with Proctor and Gamble, the book was filled with Clinique products. I see no difference in what they originally wrote and what they changed it to due to a licensing agreement. The book always highlighted products to its intended audience (or mentioned products that its audience would naturally use, if we go with the whole defense of the Southern realist writers from the 80s that had their characters drinking Coca-Cola, popping Advil, and driving Ford Mustangs.)

2) Yet the industry has no real problems with book that are tie-ins to products and shows like the Simpsons or Seinfeld or The Sopranos. The consumer already sees this in their television, movies, video games, magazines, internet sites and schools, but when an author starts to use product placement, then it's time to put a stop to this? The audience for this book grew up in a world of advertisements. Read No Logo or Branded to see how much product a teenager encounters in a day. What this really shows is publishing's age. Suddenly the industry becomes the overprotective parent that does not trust their children to make good choices. Remember the hubbub about Rainbow Parties? Oh, but it never really happened, did it?

(Disclosure: I work for part of the publishing company that is publishing this book. I was never a fan of the book, but then again I'm not the main audience for the book. The most interesting fact I've culled from all of this is that the authors were the people responsible for that annoying meme for Halo 2.)

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