Scholarship is still valued

June 26, 2008

Martin Cohen's witty attack on academic bookshops ("Banality at bargain prices", 12 June) singled out my Last Witnesses: The Muggletonian History as a recent casualty. Coincidentally, The London Review of Books carried a positive appraisal of it by the doyen of academic reviewers, Patrick Collinson.

When I submitted the manuscript to a famous university press, one reader thought that it could be published as it stood. The second reader was more complimentary still, on readability as well as scholarship, but he or she doubted whether it would sell. This was excellent advice, particularly if Cohen's researches are correct. On the whole, books that are not stocked rarely command huge sales. How lucky I was to find a non-university press that put scholarship above profits.

William Lamont, Emeritus professor, University of Sussex.

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