PENGUIN, ONE of the few truly "household" names in books, is going into recordings. The firm will invite listeners to "discover classical music" with Penguin Music Classics. The driving force behind them is the youthful Penguin chief, Michael Lynton, who, bewildered by 30 recordings of Handel's Messiah and a "snotty" clerk in Tower Records, decided to launch a quality series of budget classics. All the recordings are recommended in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and licensed from the major labels. However, instead of a critical apparatus (as in Penguin Classics books), one is offered a celebrity endorsement. There's Douglas Adams on the Brandenburg Concertos (`This is the music of flocking and swarming things") or Arthur Miller recalling how, before the world premiere of Death of a Salesman in 1949, he took Elia Kazan and Lee J Cobb to hear Beethoven's Seventh. All very interesting, but ... judge for yourself in January.
ON-DEMAND PRINTING has finally come to Britain, with Macmillan announcing a service for its academic titles. The company will be able to fulfil single copy orders without holding books in stock. For readers, it means that works of academic value can be kept in print on a permanent basis. However, it muddles further the vexed question of copyright. For it means that rights in a book, which conventionally revert to the author once it has ceased to be in print, effectively belong to the publisher in perpetuity. Agents will have a field day.
FEW WRITERS can resist the siren call of fiction. David Yallop, the fearless investigative journalist who has written books on the Craig and Bentley case, the Yorkshire Ripper and the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I (In God's Name), will shortly make his debut with Unholy Alliance for Bantam, about a corrupt TV evangelist who will stop at nothing in his bid for the White House. Let's hope that Yallop lowers his expectations. No novel is likely to sell on the scale of In God's Name, which has clocked up more than six million copies.Reuse content