The End of Hardbacks

So it looks as if the era of a literary novel being printed in hardback before paperback is over. It\’s really rather odd that they don\’t actually explain what is really happening though.

Hardback then paperback is in fact simply a method of price discrimination. The publisher is trying to charge a higher price to those who really want the work and then a lower price to those prepared to wait a year for the paperback. If publishers are now to stop doing this, it will be because this form of price discrimination no longer works. The reason it doesn\’t is explained:

Libraries, which used to in effect underwrite the hardback market by guaranteeing to buy almost every new literary novel, have diverted resources to music, computers and DVDs.

Isn\’t that lovely? The literary fiction market, all those arty types writing and reading the most incredibly boring codswallop, has been subsidised by your tax money all these years. Good that it\’s ended then, isn\’t it?

The Wisdom of Crowds

Another confirmation that distributed knowledge is indeed right on certain points.

Lloyd, however, adds a coda that will depress Britain’s publishers, especially Random House. “In my experience,” he said, “the public generally think that politicians are at best hypocrites or simply a bunch of lying bastards.”

Who could possibly argue that they\’re wrong?

Coren and Pinter


On occasion he took it as well as dished it out: at a grand party at Cliveden he murmured to Harold Pinter, another working-class Jewish Londoner, “Well, Harold, we’re assimilating, eh?” and Pinter decked him.

Yes, I think this is Exactly Right

Alan Coren\’s writing in a nutshell:

Coren senior, a humorous writer from an early age, was a distorted prism. Shine a fact, the more trivial the better, at one side and out of the other would come a refracted rainbow of lateral thinking that would take wing on an updraught of preposterous imagination.

Alan Coren RIP

Very sad to hear of his death. Almost certainly the finest comic writer of the generation.

For me the best stuff was the essays he did at Punch, while he was editor there. This is a book of the best of them.

From that book, this is the one that I remember the most. (You might have to fiddle about to see it. Put "Moses" into the see inside bit and it starts on page 28. Fiddle about and you can read the whole of it.)

He aready has his monument I would say.



Sex Blogging

Rootling around the web for examples to put into this directory of sex blogs I find that this is certainly true:

All sex is bad sex in fiction; wise writers leave us at the bedroom door. AS Byatt once pouted, "I do sex very well because I don\’t do it at any great length" – and Bronte, Austen and Tolstoy all left us at the door. Now I admire Norman Mailer but I don\’t want to put my hand down his trousers: not in life, and not in fiction.

There\’s not much really good writing out there on the subject, certainly not in the way that political, or economic, or food, or sports blogging throws up some excellent pieces and writers.

Title Competition

OK; so I need your help again.

This directory of sex blogs. 100 pages, blog a page, al blogs being about sex in some manner.

So, what should we call it? One Track Minds? Onanist\’s Corner?

If we use the title I\’ll send along a freebie copy.

AN Wilson and VS Naipaul

A very negative review of VS Naipaul here by AN Wilson.

Fans of Naughtie got a double delight last week when, just before the eight o\’clock news, he was interviewing Sir Vidia Naipaul. Since being awarded the Nobel Prize, Naipaul seems to have slipped from being a great writer who is occasionally idiotic into being an old bore who does not know when he is making a fool of himself.

Writing and reading are very different arts, and relationships between writers themselves are always fraught. Envy distorts his discussion of his fellow-Caribbean Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott. "I had looked at a few of the later poems. They did not stir me."

He does not so much as name Omeros or Tiepolo Hound, two of the most remarkable works of literature in our time. Any dispassionate reader can see that Naipaul is incapable of reading a great poet because his own ego is getting in the way.

OK, bad review, nothing unusual….but I don\’t think we should expect anything else from this reviewer on this writer. I\’ve forgotten (if I ever understood them) the details but there\’s been a decades long spat between the two anyway. This is just the latest installment and it\’s a bit like academic arguments. They\’re so vicious because there\’s nothing really at stake.