Letter: A good read is hard to find

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The Independent Online
PAMELA BELLE'S response to Chris Mullin's article (Letters, 9 October) confirms my suspicions that publishers, and not authors, are responsible for the deplorable state of fiction today. When I became a hospital librarian 25 years ago such writers as Daphne du Maurier, Howard Spring and Thomas Armstrong were still popular because they had sufficient merit to last.

Unfortunately they have had few successors and it has been increasingly difficult over the years to meet the demands of readers with a really satisfying novel. In my experience most reading is done by middle- aged women who want a 'good read'. This means neither a very light romance nor a Booker prizewinner; they want a well-written story, preferably not garnished with foul language, explicit sex or unbridled violence. To hear that Pamela Belle's books are not to be reprinted in paperback is disappointing and inexplicable as she is one of the few authors that I can rely on to meet this need. Perhaps if publishers were to encourage this type of middlebrow book they would not need to spend vast sums on 'hype'. Then perhaps we could have more books of normal size instead of the bloated hardbacks, printed on spongy paper with wide margins, selling at inflated prices and fit only as doorstops.

As it is, novels are being debased to the point where no one will want to read them.

R E Coard

Frome, Somerset