No one concerned for the dignity of letters can have failed to notice the increasing voracity and audibility of publishers' advertising of recent years. With this in mind I have been studying the literary section of an issue of the Observer. The results are disquieting. The “Books of the Day” feature runs from page 4 to page 9. On page 4 the text proper occupies three centre columns (not quite full columns, for Michael Joseph butts in with an advertisement across the foot). It is flanked on the left by Hodder and Stoughton, a two‐column spread from top to bottom; on the right is another two‐column spread of which Victor Gollancz has the lion's share. Hodder's display is a series of drab shaded panels, Gollancz's is a characteristically resonant proclamation in heavy type: the two in opposition strike discords in the midst of which the actual matter of the book reviews twitters faintly like a virginal trying to be heard in a mass‐meeting of trombones and bugles. Page 5 is split clean in half, three columns being devoted to text and the remainder—a massive four‐column spread—being again dedicated to Mr. Gollancz's commercial purposes. Page 6 repeats the tale—three columns of text to four of advertisements. On pages 7 and 8 the proportion of advertisement to text is equally heavy. On page 9 (the last of the literary section) the comparatively “decent pomp” of Harrap and Cassell is to the forefront—but by some oversight a dividend of two half‐columns of text above the average quota has been allowed to creep in. In all, the six book pages of one of our leading Sunday journals are carved up, roughly, as: text, nineteen columns; advertisements, twenty‐three columns.
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