Cover Stories: The classics war; Sherlock Holmes; Graphic novel, Logicomix

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The Independent Culture

*Further shots in the classics war: Vintage, the literary paperback imprint of Random House, will next summer launch a new list with 20 titles including Tom Jones, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Oliver Twist. The library will build at six to eight titles a month over five years. Research shows that the public perceives Oxford's titles, for example, as "forbidding and academic"; Penguin's black-spined classics had "a stamp of quality" but looked like "hard going". Vintage publishing director Rachel Cugnoni knows the risks in going head-to-head with Penguin but said that "If we don't do this now, eventually everything will belong to Penguin". Which, if Pearson ever does decide to sell, Random House would like to own.

*Headline's own miniature classics operation continues after the "reinvention" of Jane Austen as chick-fic. The publisher has turned to Arthur Conan Doyle, a writer of 'timeless intelligence", according to Alexander McCall Smith. In the week before Christmas, it will publish all nine Sherlock Holmes titles in jackets designed for modern readers, priced at £4.99 each, or as a box-set.

*Bloomsbury has so far steered clear of the vogue for graphic novels, but this week paid a good sum for, potentially, the genre's Sophie's World. Logicomix, written by the polymathic Greek novelist Apostolos Doxiadis and Berkeley computer scientist Christos H Papadimitriou, begins in Athens but then, via Bertrand Russell, tells the story of the revolutions in logic and maths that led to modern computing. Agent Clare Conville describes it as an "engaging human story" and an "intellectual thriller". It also features a memorable dog, Manga.

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