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Pratchett Soup

Do you ever hear a story about a book or an author you love and just do a mental double take? What? Really? Did I just dream that?

I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Terry Pratchett but have you heard about the weird things his German publishers did in the 1990s? He had to change from his existing publishers (Heyne) to new publishers (Goldmann) because they’d put adverts for soup in the text of his novels without his permission and wouldn’t promise not to do it again.

Seriously, what? Really?

There’s a quote from Terry about it that seems to be all over the internet, but I can’t find the source. I mean, it sounds like him but take it with a pinch of salt just in case:

There were a number of reasons for switching to Goldmann, but a deeply personal one for me was the way Heyne (in Sourcery I think, although it may have been in other books) inserted a soup advert in the text, a few black lines and then something like ‘Around about now our heroes must be pretty hungry and what better than a nourishing bowl’… etc, etc.
My editor was pretty sick about it, but the company wouldn’t promise not to do it again so that made it very easy to leave them. They did it to Iain Banks, too, and apparently at a con he tore out the offending page and ate it. Without croutons.

Soup adverts were also added into Pyramids and it all sounds really weird to me, but apparently it was standard practice for Heynes at the time. In the 1950s and ’60s this was a pretty common thing done by German publishers of sci-fi, as it was seen as the only way to make money from these cheap books, and Heynes just… hadn’t stopped doing it. And writers from the UK largely just… hadn’t noticed. German fans obviously noticed but I guess they were used to it and it was normal to them.

Anyway I’ll give you the text from one of the adverts from Pyramids (in German followed by my attempt to translate, feel free to correct me!) so you can see for yourself and make up your own mind.

Der Ort, an dem Teppic sich befindet, eignet sich bestimmt nicht für ein gemützliches Picknick – also reitet er weiter. Wir hingegen können jetzt ruhig, eine Rast einlegen: Schleißlich werden noch viele Abenteuer folgen. Unterbrechen wir also die Lektüre jetzt für fünf Minuten und bereiten uns zwischendurch etwas heißes und würziges

The place where Teppic finds himself is definitely not suitable for a cosy picnic – so he rides on. We, on the other hand, can now take a rest: after all, many adventures will follow. So let’s stop reading for five minutes and prepare something hot and spicy

How weird is that! From page 209, so well into the story!

As an amusing epilogue to this story, I think Terry got back at them in Moving Pictures. In the novel, Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler keeps trying to put adverts for Harga’s House of Ribs into films but is continually thwarted and they always get edited out. Nice work, Terry.


16 thoughts on “Pratchett Soup

  1. I think, in the 50ies / 60ies Goldmann had ads, too. When I stayed at my grandmother’s as a kid I was so bored I started raiding her bookshelves. She had a lot of old, battered paperbacks from Goldmann. I remember I wondered about the ads. Rowohlt had ads for cigarettes, but I never saw one of those myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait, what? Was this really a thing? Well, clearly, since today isn’t the first day of April!

    But I shouldn’t really be too surprised, after all product placement has been around in films since at least the 70s; and on a visit to the States more than two decades ago, the news programmes would segue without any warning into an overt product advertisement presented by … the newsreader! How can one trust that the person presenting the news bulletin is impartial and the news items aren’t tainted by bias towards a sponsor? Am I right in suspecting this sort of thing still goes on there?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too! I guess if that’s in all the books you want to read though, you just have to get used to it. Maybe if you were expecting it you’d just skip a few lines? They look quite obvious with the black boxes around them to sort out the spacing.

      Liked by 1 person

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