WHAT’S to become of us? You go into one classy bookshop, the kind where the people who run it are a fount of knowledge and the books on the shelf, in the past, have been carefully chosen to intrigue and delight, and you discover it is now into designer books, catering for a clientele who co- ordinate their carpets with their couch and their books, and are willing to pay big bucks for a title that looks glossily expensive, never mind what it’s about. Such a bookshop is more decor than decorum. Across town, an equally classy bookshop, run by an equally brilliant bookseller, is knick- knack heaven. Alongside the real books, there’s the equivalent of junk food. The poor bookseller, looking resigned if a little sad, says that’s what folk want these days from a bookshop, so, so be it. The times, they are always a- changin’. IT was interesting to watch the reaction to the news that Michael Bond, author of the Paddington Bear books, will put out what is presumably one last book ( Bond is 83, his bear 50) in which his Peruvian stowaway to London will be interrogated as an illegal immigrant. All the merry japes about how to prosecute Alice for her drug problem and Toad for road rage skirt around the intriguing question: is Bond going to deliver a message about police interrogation or illegal immigrants? IT’S a constant and rarely victorious battle to try to convince those in leadership roles that nurturing creativity and intelligence is complex, requiring, for starters, an absolute commitment to the idea that measuring success only by market- driven values is stupid. You know the kind of thinking: a literary prize is enough to create good writers and a healthy reading community. So let us pause for a moment and ponder this statement from the French ( ah Baudelaire, oooh Diderot, yes, please, Flaubert) President, Nicolas Sarkozy, labelling the arty book programs on French television a ‘‘ cultural ghetto’’. More advertising is Sarkozy’s advice: ‘‘ What’s good for the bestseller is good for books,’’ he says. WHAT on earth are we to expect from the film version of J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace , which is due next year? Such a harrowing book and so dependent on the disquieting strangeness of the central character. John Malkovich is odd enough and courageous enough, but is he good enough to portray all that on screen? More to the point, can a script get anywhere near the thumping, accumulated horror of Coetzee’s text? LOVELY quote from Marc Testart, who won the inaugural Australian Poetry Slam at the State Library of NSW this month. ‘‘ I thought I was born 300 years too late and this contemporary poetry competition gives me hope I was born right on time,’’ Testart says. We think he means at the right time and we don’t think he means he’s as good as Shakespeare but more along the lines of suggesting we are living through a great period for poetry. Now, how many words can we rhyme with slam?