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Translated Product Placement

I've never heard of this happening before. Has anyone else?

Speaking of Swancon, sci-fi author Tim Powers was the other principlal guest that weekend. I recall him telling me that he found out that the publishers of the Spanish (or another country's) [it's the German--Ben] translations of his novels had been inserting scenes for product placement, and that this was apparently standard practice. That is, they had a local writer on hand to add scenes into all the publisher's foreign novels where a character would go to the fridge and take out a coke, or whatever drink was contractually required.

From Eddie Campbell's blog.


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May. 4th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
I've heard of it happening to Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Roger Zelazny and Philip K Dick.

I'd say your milage varied.
May. 4th, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, apparently Terry Pratchett's early books would sometimes say, "Right about now, our characters could probably do with some Campbell's soup..." or words to that effect, followed by an ad in the middle of the text. He changed publisher after that.
May. 4th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC)
Yes, that's the pattern with Rowohlt. They insert a double-ad-page into the middle of the text. They did that for as long as I can remember, and I stopped buying their books even when I was a teenager (you don't want to know how long ago that was) because of that.

Other publishers also inserted ads, but not nearly as intrusive as Rowohlt.
May. 4th, 2007 03:10 pm (UTC)
I heard that same story, on USENET back in the late 1990s.
May. 4th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
It's the first I've heard of that, and I've translated novels for the publisher who is listed as Powers' German publisher.

There are one or two publishers here who I wouldn't put it past, but Heyne is actually one of the (if not the) biggest publisher in Germany, and quite reputable.

Weird. I'll need to look into this.
May. 4th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)
yeah, let us know what you find out. least it's not happening everywhere,i suppose.
May. 15th, 2007 08:25 am (UTC)
Okay, so far as I could find out, it's not product placement. It's straight-out ads that are inserted into the middle of the novel. Kind of like a commercial interruption on TV.

The heroes are in crisis, on a left-hand page. Right-hand page has a line that links the ad to the story: "The heroes should have renewed their life insurance" or some-such. Turn the page, you get a full-page ad for life insurance on the left-hand page, and the story continues on the right-hand page.

I remember now that I stopped buying Heyne SF and Rowohlt books precisely because of this. That's why it had dropped off my radar.
May. 15th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
how weird. anyhow, thanks for that, man.
May. 15th, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC)
Not that weird. Some US publishers (Gold Eagle, for example) do the same thing. Only even more intrusive, with different paper and garish coloring. The ads in some German novels can sometimes be mistaken for content at first glance.

Which, come to think of it, is probably where the product placement mistake came from.
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)
the new 1984:

'are you ready for the five minutes of IPOD LOVE?'
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2007 10:43 am (UTC)
you could make a really cool mashed up novel doing this, i reckon. in matthew reilly's ICE STATION you could put all this conservation notices in there about the antartic and also advertisements on where to shoot guns in america.
May. 4th, 2007 11:16 am (UTC)
Okay, I'm looking at that icon and I'm now utterly convinced that one of these days, you will kill me in my sleep.
May. 4th, 2007 11:17 am (UTC)
spiffy, innit?
May. 4th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
You're the dark doctor Peek :)

One would hope that contractually one could resist publishers doing this.

However, I note that Shepard's latest softspoken has so many Diet Pepsi refs that Pepsi ought to buy the film rights :)

---factory farmer
May. 5th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
That cuz the lady involved had a lot of fizz...til she went flat.
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