Media: Inside publishing-Right Royal letdown

Aside from a flurry of teasing articles at the time of its American publication last month, Kitty Kelley's magnum opus on the Royal Family seems so far to have been a tempest in a teapot. Sensible commentators not known for slavish defence of the Windsors have laughed at her cack- handed `revelations' and reliance on long-dead sources. Still, her American publishers, Warner, part of the Time Warner giant, are taking steps to ensure that the book does not reach British shops and are asking suppliers to refrain from fulfilling orders placed by British-based customers. So far, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the two major players in the area, have honoured Warner's request.

However, as with Spycatcher, the Queen's Australian subjects will be able to buy and read the book, for Transworld, whose British counterpart has published Kelley on Nancy Reagan, have bought Antipodean rights following assurances that the book is `libel-free by Australian standards'. Although libel laws are tougher here, it's possible that the Windsors, having learned from Thatcher's travails over the Peter Wright affair, would rather not provide Kelley with the oxygen of publicity by issuing a writ. Anyway, it's likely that books will slip in from Oz, stacking up in motorway service stations and other outlets.