20 DECEMBER 1946, Page 16


SIR,—British publishers are naturally anxious to win back their pre-war export trade, and all we who formerly used English books so much wish them the best. But even when one makes all allowances for shortages, &c., some of your publishers do behave in ways that are not only irritating but sometimes seem definitely aimed to deceive. Among annoying practices are the continual leaving out of dates and omitting to state that the book is a reprint. The latter is important now that so many books, printed in tiny quantities during the war years, are being reissued. Using different British and American titles may have some justification, but omitting to make this clear in the books themselves has not. One may thus be misled into buying the same book twice—but such caveat emptor methods don't pay, I assure you.

Your issue of November 8th illustrates some of my complaints. One of your reviewers says of a certain book, " There is (as usual with this publisher) no date." Another reviewer, doing Science Old and New, by J. A. Thomson, certainly gives the impression that he is reviewing a new book, and so is misleading either himself or his readers, for it was out in 1924, though the edition he is reviewing bears the date 1946, and not the faintest indication that there ever was another. Well-wishers abroad hope that those qualities of thoroughness and attention to detail which one formerly thought of as so typical of English books will soon again distinguish the industry. They will have to—for reasons not neces- sary to enlarge upon.—Yours, &c., F. W. MATLEY. 127 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, Canada.