Michael Burleigh

Slick Business

The Secret World of Oil

By

Verso 281pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Virtually any industry lends itself to knocking copy. Take publishing. Greedy agents cook up superfluous books with needy authors and sell them to publishers who have streamlined their lists to a series of predictable commercial formats so as not to embarrass themselves on the balance sheets of their corporate masters. After discreet intervention by gushing publicists, friends of the authors review the books in newspapers sometimes owned by the same corporations. Some authors post adoring online comments on their own books or slander their rivals. Half-hearted efforts are made to sell the books in stores that have been denuded of staff on dying high streets. Of course, we know that such an account would be a travesty of how publishing functions within a Britain that is a beacon to the entire world in this as in so many other respects.

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