Advertising in Book Series Divides Book Review Editors

By Rothenberg, Randall | THE JOURNAL RECORD, November 25, 1989 | Go to article overview

Advertising in Book Series Divides Book Review Editors


Rothenberg, Randall, THE JOURNAL RECORD


NEW YORK - Editors of several leading book reviews are divided over how they will treat a new series of books that are sponsored by, and contain advertising from, the Federal Express Corp.

Their decisions could affect the journalistic credibility sought by Whittle Communications, the books' publisher and the creator of several other controversial, advertiser-financed communications vehicles.

``We will give them some kind of consideration,'' said Nina King, the editor of The Washington Post Book World. ``I don't think we'll give them the same kind of consideration, because they're different. The criteria will have to be different, because these books are different.''

How different is apparent when paging through ``The Trouble With Money'' by William Greider, the first of at least 10 books planned for Whittle's ``Larger Agenda Series,'' which was sent by Federal Express two weeks ago to about 150,000 business and political leaders.

Scattered throughout the beautifully produced 94-page essay on the American financial system by the national editor of Rolling Stone magazine are seemingly incongruous, full-page ads for the overnight-delivery company.

Across the spine of the book from page 8, for example, where a tantalizing text block talks of ``usury,'' ``gambling'' and ``once-forbidden forms of sexual behavior,'' is a photograph of airplanes and the reminder that ``Federal Express owns the largest all-cargo air fleet in the world.''

Most of Whittle's products are created to take advantage of captive audiences, notably Channel One, a daily news program intended itors' decisions to assign reviews.

The Whittle books will be sold, without advertising, in many Waldenbooks stores after the ad-filled editions are distributed to Whittle's self-selected list of ``opinion leaders.''

``If the books will only be available to the general public in one outlet, it doesn't make sense for Publishers Weekly to review them,'' said Genevieve Stuttaford, who edits the book review section of the publishing trade magazine. ``We don't only review for Waldenbooks.''

King also said that the books' limited distribution made them unlikely candidates for review. …

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Advertising in Book Series Divides Book Review Editors
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