12 APRIL 1975, Page 9

Book marks

Here is a new sport for student-bashers. It is called University Library-Bashing, and comes to The Spectator by courtesy of the National Book League who have just published a five-year survey of how much Britain's fifty-one Universities spend on books and periodicals.

For aficionados of the league-table formula it makes riveting reading and contains quite a, few surprises. In terms of gross expenditure on library books, the University of London comes out way ahead with £568,398 for the year 1972-3. For the same period Oxford and Cambridge spent less than half that, and were followed some way behind by Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and Nottingham. That, however, is a rather empty batting order since it tends merely to reflect the size of their respective student populations; what is much more interesting is their per capita expenditure record.

You might imagine that the venerable institution of Oxford would emerge proudly to the fore. It does not. For the year 1972-73 it ranks tenth. Not that the men of Cambridge have a great deal to feel superior about. Cambridge ranks twelfth. As a matter of fact the two universities with the most consistently good record of per capita book expenditure are not in England at all: they are Ulster and St. Davids. Others that acquit themselves with distinction over the fiveyear period include the Universities of Brunel, Lancaster and East Anglia, with honourable mention for York who have risen from 18th to 4th position since 1968.

And the regular "villains"? Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Salford, Bath, Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, and Queen's University, Belfast. Student-bashers in these areas may feel inclined to hold their peace, at least until the next set of figures is published.

Vanity press"?

Everyone knew, of course, that the Arts Council was at the back of the New Review but Bookbuyer hopes that recent rumours — that this is being taken far too literally — are unfounded. It has been suggested that a coy end-column, entitled 'Adrian's Diary', is actually written by an Arts Council bureaucrat called Charles Osborne. As a recent pseud's elegy on Auden in the London Magazine has made all too painfully clear, Mr Osborne is not and has never been a writer. It would be a pity if the New Review


Notinto vanity publishing so

Not with a whimper Not with a whimper

Those who expected that irreverent newsletter, the Gee Report, to go out with a bang cannot have been disappointed. In their final issue, mischievously dated April 1, Gee's knockabout comedy duo, Michael Meller and Fred Nolan, produced a veritable mine-field of scurrility, adding: "the final issue may be circulated, photocopied, or reproduced any way that suits you." Bookbuyer will confine himself to one item only — a quote from Cape's witty chairman Tom Maschler whose reputation as the best creative editor in London is entirely justified: "It's no use the Arts Council giving authors money direct. They only go and get drunk."

This, let it quickly be said, was a misquotation. Three witnesses assure me that what Mr Maschler actually said was: "The Arts Council can't go on giving more gmeotnderyundkir.ect to authors. They only go and