5 JANUARY 1974, Page 16



A happy new year to you, and an opportune moment to offer some well-meant resolutions. With so much being written about the book trade in every imaginable journalistic quarter, Bookend hopes to continue to provide periodic corrective to the columns of simplistic euphoria which would have us believe that everything is rosy in the English publishing garden. Following his usual form, Bookbuyer therefore resolves.

— to expose publishing sharp practice which, contrary to the impression given in one kindlY1 memoir after another, is no less rife in Bloomsbury than it is in the City. — to highlight any lurking hypocrisy and deceit, by putting those occasionally hollow

sounding public utterances where they belong: in the proper context of their spokesman's behaviour and professional performance. — to be critical of complacency, somnulence, indolence, incompetence and buffoonery wherever it may occur in the book business, and particularly where it is likely to cause loss of earnings to authors whose material rewards are already on average somewhere below national subsistence level. At the same time, Bookbuyer hopes that others will be no less tolerant of his own inadequacies. — to keep a close eye on any form of public expenditure, whether it be local or national government, the Arts Council, Her Majesty's Stationery Office or the B.B.C., who in the past month have deprived the national coffers of , thousands of pounds through their failure to cope adequately with those obvious bestsellers, Bronowski's Ascent of Man and Alistair Cooke's America. — to monitor abuse of power, especially where -that power resides in men more interested in reading balance sheets than books. The one requires the other, but as servant rather than master.

More constructively — though the best criticism is always constructive — Bookbuyer also resolves, wherever possible, to encourage any new venture which seeks intelligently 'to increase the bookbuying habit. — to pinpoint major trends, particularly where they affect the pound in your pocket, and to reflect the general progress of a trade which is not only fascinating in itself but which bears a far greater responsibility than it sometimes realises.

— to highlight, perhaps more than previouslY, the better achievements in the publishing and bookselling fields. One such unsung triumph is Brian Alderson's remarkable exhibition of children's picture books at the National Book League — on show, complete with a catalogue which could become a collector's item, until 12th January. — to try to write about what is happening on the literary scene, rather than what publishers would have us believe is happening. If a distinguished 19th century company decides to dabble in "vanity publishing' then it should not expect Bookbuyer to refrain from remarking on it. By a similar token it would be rather sad if firms like Granada and Chatto ceased to send review copies to The Spectator simply because Bookbuyer had written something they did not like or agree with. They have every right to rational reply through the paper's correspondence columns. — to continue, in the interests of general merriment and ridicule, to make rash predictions. (For the record, Bookbuyer's attempt to write the Christmas bestseller list last August produced the following: eight wrong out of the Bookseller's estimated top thirty — though ir can at least be said that his outsider tips Supernature and The Butterfly Ball — both romped home.) — above all, to hope that no one, least of all the victims, falls into the trap of taking Bookend too seriously.