Yet the books we have chosen for this survey belong in a quite different bracket. They represent the much-lauded rise of the brain-stretching blockbuster; the thinking reader's chart sensation. For Dava Sobel's Longitude, Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, or Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, the loss is clear enough if readers find that libraries can no longer meet their needs.
Yet, in their own way, a Trainspotting, a Fever Pitch, even a Bridget Jones's Diary, can contribute to the culture in a decisive way. Not only do they have their own distinctive merits and values. They have also become the focus of a wide debate that presumes a familiarity with these books as a sort of enfranchisement.
But, for many library users, a pounds 7.99 cover price will be just as much of a disincentive as a pounds 79 tag. Exclude most of them from free (ie tax- funded) access to titles of this kind, and you will shut them out from the discussions that define our times.Reuse content