Eye of the beholder

February 26, 1999

Stuart Hay's zealous defence of publishers is just a trifle disingenuous about the status of authors ("A hard-nosed publisher writesI", THES, February 19). I wrote my first book in the mid-1970s and am now on my sixth. My relationships with the publishing staff have always been good.

But during that time I have seen my share of the take systematically reduced, not by the publishing staff but by the accountants. As Hay points out, advances and royalties are only a fraction of what they used to be - not to mention royalty payments, now made once, not twice a year.

It is not so much that authors as individuals are treated with disrespect, but that as a group they are treated with contempt. Recently I have heard both publishers and booksellers bemoaning their anorectic share of the pie, but if anyone's getting fat off academic book publishing, it ain't the authors.

David Statt Director of studies, Graduate School of International Business University of Bristol

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