Sometimes you get such searing insights into how the world of reading, and of selling books, has changed. At Christmas a relative I visited was weeding his bookshelves, and one of the books he offered round was this 1949 Pan paperback edition he bought from a secondhand-bookshop when he was a teenager. I took it for its classic cover design, but when I got it home I could hardly believe the 'blurb' (below) on the back of this populist publication, which in its structure, language and preoccupations reads more like a (stilted) essay, and appeals to assumed biobliographic and philanthropic interests in the readership rather than to a simple desire for spills and thrills. I particularly like the opening academically-inclined salvo:
THE SAINT VERSUS SCOTLAND YARD was originally entitled The Holy Terror, but its present title was used in the American editions and is therefore now adopted to obviate confusion.and the assurance that the author is
himself [?] deeply interested in problems of psychology and philosophyas well as the fact that
Enthusiasts for the Saint are reminded of the Saint Club ... which, besides giving members some amusement, supports the Arbor Youth Club in a heavily blitzed East End area of Londonalthough we are told that Charteris has 'invented new ways of selling books,' and that last, with its carefully-placed contact details, is probably an example.