Letter: Rescue books from the money men

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The Independent Online
Sir: Books? It's both worse and better than Giles Gordon says (article, 14 June).

There is indeed a huge move towards the lower-middle-mass market, but it's not just WH Smith. While they may be cutting down on range, this means stocking only 56 different heartwarming Cockney sagas instead of 73, 34 different books on aromatherapy instead of 92, and 141 different ways to be a more wonderful person instead of 3,289. If you have nothing but me-too publishing year after year (and therefore me-too agenting), you will get boring bookshops, and eventually booksellers will rebel against being asked to stock yet more "product".

But don't worry. It's all happened before. The accountants and the marketing executives who now rule publishing used to run the baking and brewing industries. They looked through the fat ends of their telescopes and thought we would eat Mother's Pride and drink Watney's Red Barrel for all time. Luckily, such people understand absolutely nothing about life except numbers, so we ended up with better bread and better beer than ever before.

All we need now is a Campaign for Real Books and the same can happen again.

GORDON THORBURN

Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria

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