Books of the year 2010 | John Cornwell

Merchants of Culture by John Thompson

Frank Kermode, who died in August aged 90 and was arguably the greatest essayist of his generation, last year brought out a collection of his pieces for the London Review of Books, which he helped found in 1979, titled Bury Place Papers (LRB Books, £14.99). He wrote 200 articles for the LRB, each one a timeless gem. Most of the best are in this volume. Book publishing is in trouble, as we all know; but why? Where is it all going? And where is it likely to end? Merchants of Culture (Polity Press, £20), by the Cambridge media sociologist John Thompson, is a superb history and analysis of publishing and bookselling, from the 1960s to the present, against the background of the rapidly expanding digital media. A salutary, scary read.

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