On Monday the ST's sister paper, the Times, rehashed the story: Secret of fees that make a bestseller. And yesterday, also in the Times, the columnist Libby Purves took a third bite at it: Reader, you're a right dimwit.
So much so fairly standard operating procedure, I suppose, at least in the newspaper world. And there's no real need to read any of it. But it's worth noting that Libby Purves repeats the statement which I do not believe to be true, namely that it was the Sunday Times which first broke this story in 2001. If the Times staff repeat it a few more times it will become established fact.
However, it seemed to me that Libby Purves did make one good point. Here it is:
You would think that, knowing how skewed the trade has become, book page editors would question the status quo as journalists do in every other area. You would think that their mission was to seek out interesting new books while scornfully ignoring hype-fests. There is little evidence of this, except in some odd and praiseworthy corners. Journalists like to feel they are up there with the “buzz”, even if the buzz is largely artificial. Where reviews do diverge from the well-trodden track of the week’s “key” books, it is often only into a cosy circuit of settling old scores, or bigging up friends who will soon return the favour. This is often undeclared, which shocks the strait-laced American media (read the New York Times arts ethical policy online, boys, and hang your heads).Hear, hear.