07 April 2008


Weidenfeld & Nicolson has long been one of the most impressive trade publishers in the UK, turning out some of the smartest history books on the market. That's why it's a bleedin' shame to see this:

One of Britain's most distinguished publishers has been condemned for turning its back on serious history books in favour of 'crappy' celebrity biographies and TV spin-offs.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, whose authors have included Harold Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Golda Meir, Henry Kissinger and Pope John Paul II, has culled a number of planned titles at a cost said to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in advance payments to authors.

The Orion Publishing Group, which bought the firm from co-founder George Weidenfeld in 1991, is aiming to reduce W&N's non-fiction output from 100 to 50 books a year.

Far too much of that going on, say I. I've even seen some hints of it at Walker & Co., my trade publisher, which has done a remarkably good job of publishing smart books in a tight market. Here's hoping W&N sees the light.

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