2 SEPTEMBER 1972, Page 17



Bookbuyer has warned readers against vanity publishers — one he had in mind was the Janay Publishing Company Limited, who seem to have a sadly underdeveloped sense of the ridiculous. They failed to see the absurdity of a poem subversively sent in by Dr David Delvin, which was in fact the first paragraph of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, and goes as follows:

Approaches to the Patient

No greater opportunity Responsibility, or obligation Can fall to the lot of a human being Tan to become a physician. In the care of the suffering He needs Technical skill, scientific knowledge, And human understanding.

Janay accepted this within thirty-six hours. Bad enough, but, now they have it seems thrown all discrimination to the winds and have promoted a new book, The Subtopians, by — lierally — a publicity stunt. A Mr Franz Burbach crossed the Thames on a tight rope, undaunted by last year's splash, and on his back and front the words "Read The Subtopians." Invitations to witness this were issued " If you consider reviewing this book on its own merits." Does this phrase suggest that

there are other ways of considering literature than on its own merits? Janay's offer to publish an entire volume of Dr Delvin's ' poetry' for a large ' subsidy' suggests that they at least think so.

Wandering round bookshops, Bookbuyer has seen a surprising number of books on sale before their publication dates, thus defying the trade embargo One bookseller explained that a part-time assistant had inadvertently put one such book on display — what a lot of inadvertency there is about these days. Scratch Music by Cornelius Cardew was on the shelves at Dillon's more than a week early, a copy of the new Dreyfus book was bought from John Sandoe about a week before its publication date, and Foyle's had at least one new novel displayed with no doubt ' inadvertent ' prematureness.

Kingsley Amiss next best-seller, On Drink, comes from Cape later this year. It seems that Amis had a yen for the old style jacket which would show the scholarly author, standing, pince-nez on nose, surrounded by the massed volumes of his library. The scholarly author thought that this ambience would be best conveyed by a picture of himself, surrounded by bookshelves loaded with bottles. Cape liked this, and a photographer was dispatched. The picture taken, Amis helped unload the bottles from the shelves. In doing so, one bookcase toppled over, and a bottle hit him in the eye, blacking it for a couple of weeks. If this isn't bad enough, there is now a rumour that Cape may not use the picture for the jacket at all.