Wednesday, 20 July 2011

You See Him Here, You See Him There

I came across this interesting article on the invaluable Books Inq blog. I read it just after hearing on the radio that Harper Collins is part of the Murdoch empire. While I believe Random House is the biggest of all English language publishers, I imagine Harper Collins could give it a run for its money - and it is certainly big enough, I'd have thought, to exert considerable influence on the way that publishing is run.

Which was why, when I came to the phrase 'commercially-driven literary culture' in the article, I found myself wondering if it was possible to make a connection: could it be that book publishing, like so much else in Britain, has become entangled in the Murdoch tentacles? Has this area of British life also been corrupted by Murdoch greed? Has Murdoch's drive for financial success at all costs transformed the world of British writing? It's not impossible. It might provide an explanation for the dullness of the current literary world in Britain, compared to those in, for instance, Germany and France.


  1. Certainly he has done nothing to improve publishing--his employment of Judith Regan makes that clear. But it is easy to forget just how awful most books most centuries have been. If you can get acquire a copy of The Most of S.J. Perelman, have a look at the "Cloudland Revisited" chapters, in which Perelman takes a fresh look at the best-selling books and notable movies of his childhood and youth.

  2. For that sort of thing, Steerforth at the Age of Uncertainty blog ( is very good and funny, George, if you're interested.