Deadly sins are brought to book

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The Independent Online

Vanity publishing is well, if cruelly named. Everyone is vain enough to want to see their words in print. Some are satisfied with writing letters to the local paper or penning endless family newsletters, but others need to pay good money to a publisher to get a whole book into print for their vanity to be serviced.

Vanity publishing is well, if cruelly named. Everyone is vain enough to want to see their words in print. Some are satisfied with writing letters to the local paper or penning endless family newsletters, but others need to pay good money to a publisher to get a whole book into print for their vanity to be serviced.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, saith the publisher.

But Vanity was only one of the seven deadly sins. What about the other six? What about Wrath and Avarice and Envy and Lust and Sloth and Gluttony? Do they not also have their own forms of publishing? Indeed they do, and here they are, vanity publishing's six deadly little sisters.

Avarice publishing

Any book written after a publishers' auction. Any book where the author's advance is more interesting than the book. Any book which promises to make the reader a lot of money. Books about shares. Lives of big businessmen. Investment manuals. Anything to do with IT. Bill Gates. Art collecting. Antiques handbooks. Tax avoidance manuals. Oh, and management books which give the impression that if you read it and go to sleep, you'll wake up with the ability to be the head of a company.

Wrath publishing

Everything written in anger, which means anything written by someone who feels very strongly that the world is going to hell in a handcart. Yes, John Pilger, of course. Or Michael Moore. Many years ago it used to include Ben Elton. But it's not just the political or ecological gangs who get angry. It's also people like John Humphrys, who has just brought out a book called Lost for Words, subtitled The Mangling and the Manipulation of the English Language. Gosh, he's cross about lazy words like "delivery" and "community". And quite rightly so, too.

Lust publishing

Anything which persuades your libido to shell out good money. Magazines, mostly, I guess - all those publications which crowd the top shelves of newsagents with so many pictures of repetitively pneumatic bodies that it must make life very boring if you're really tall - but sexy novels too, and Jilly Cooper, and reprinted Victorian pornography. Also cookery books with Nigella Lawson on the front. And Jamie Oliver. Interesting they to Jamie Oliver "The Naked Chef", even though he never seems to take his clothes off for a publisher.

Gluttony publishing

Any cookbook which doesn't have Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver on the front. I don't think anyone actually lusts after Nigel Slater or Delia Smith. Delia Smith, I have always thought, is the Vera Lynn of cookery. Motherly, reliable, a chum, a nice gel. Anyway, there must be a lot of gluttony around for there to be so many cookbooks, even though nobody really needs more than half a dozen proper books on cookery.

Envy publising

Any book by or about someone who has got something you would like. Fame, money, adventure, sex, youth, a lovely garden etc etc. Books about David Beckham. Books about changes of lifestyle ( A Year In Provence, Driving Over Lemons), lovely houses and gardens, books by and about lovely people (Joanna Lumley) or by Gyles Brandreth about royals he's met and you haven't. Travel books are really envy publishing; the author has been there and you haven't. Most autobiographies are the same: I've had this really interesting life and you haven't.

Sloth publishing

Books which are so challenging that people buy them but do not read them ( Brief History of Time etc ). Books which are so long that people go to sleep long before the end, and let the volumes fall gently off their seat on to the aeroplane floor, where they work their way along to another seat 10 rows in front. Books written by Douglas Adams after he lost interest. Books written by Ben Elton after he stopped being angry. Books which go with the TV series. Miscellany books. Trivia books. Guinness books. Books which... which...

(Miles Kington will be back when he wakes up again.)

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