27 MARCH 1942, Page 4

A SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK T HE Paper Control, which on the whole

has tempered the wind to the shorn lambs of Fleet Street and (what was once) Paternoster Row as reasonably and amicably as possible, has, I understand, made to the book-publishers an offer which evinces a welcome and broad-minded appreciation of urgent needs. It is ready to grant 25o tons in the present licensing-period over and above the regular ration, to be set apart, on the advice of a committee of the publishers themselves, for the provision of books of undeniable public service, notably, for example, essential medical or scientific works, which ought on no account to be allowed to go out of print, or such standard series as Everyman's Library and the World's Classics. Surprisingly enough, one or two of the largest publishers, whose own ration on the basis of pre-war consumption is still considerable, oppose the plan on the ground that it is " the thin end of the wedge of censorship." That is equivalent to sayink tlat the principle of providing paper for bad books on the same basis as paper for good books must be defended to the last ditch. In this case it is not a question of earmarking a portion of the general ration for books of special public value ; the 25o tons—a relatively small amount—is extra to the ration altogether. The Paper Control seems to me to have taken an altogether laudable step, and it would be the greatest pity if full advantage were not taken of it. There is, of course, no reason whatever why the opposition of three or four publishers should have the effect of depriving others, who can show a good case, of the extra paper thus offered. That is for the Paper Control itself to decide.

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