Cathy’s Books Sells Out?

Monday’s New York Times featured an article on Cathy’s Book, the new blend between novel and alternate reality game created by Jordan Weisman and Sean Stewart. Apparently Cover Girl has arranged for product placement in the book in exchange for promoting it on, a website for adolescent girls.

According to, Commercial Alert—an organization which “protect communities from commercialism”—sent an e-mail out to newspaper and magazine editors, asking them to not review the book. They object not to the book’s content but the paid (or bartered) placement of products within it.

While I understand Commercial Alert’s point, I think they’re off-base here. The fact that I known Jordan and Sean probably colors my opinion, but it’s naïve to think that the book isn’t meant as a commercial venture in the first place. To alter inconsequential bits of the book to increase its marketing exposure seems like a brilliant move on the authors’ part. As long as they’re above board about it—which they’ve been—I don’t see much harm.