Aren't We Due a Royalty Statement? by Giles Gordon Chatto & Windus $204 SHAMEFULLY, I must admit I didn't know much about Giles Gordon before I read this book, subtitled A Stern Account of Literary, Publishing and Theatrical Folk, apart from seeing him portrayed as Sir Unctuous Gordon (by the British satirical magazine Private Eye), publishing agent to the royals. Eschewing the normal course of autobiography, Mr Gordon begins this book with his entry from Who's Who. This is a necessary device since the author is not writing about his life so much as his times in the literary and dramatic worlds. Mr Gordon is both a literary agent and literary gent. A Scotsman, he grew up in Edinburgh and entered publishing, and thence to London editing (and sometimes writing) books before crossing over to become an agent. Along the way, he has been a drama critic, lecturer and lobbyist for the books trade. Very insular, one might say, and perhaps too trivial to command publication of an autobiography, except that Mr Gordon must be in a very good position to win the favour of publication. That would be an uncharitable thought, for Mr Gordon has written an entertaining description of his earthly progress, demonstrating not only who he knows but also what he knows. His writing is elegant and humorous, its tone self-depreciating for the most part. But after a while you might be put in mind of the old joke: ''I can't abide name-dropping, as I was saying to the Queen Mother just the other day.'' The title of the book comes from a punning question put by the Prince of Wales; Mr Gordon has acted as literary agent for the Prince, his father, and his brother Andrew. And while one might applaud the heir to the throne's views on architecture and the environment, rather more copies of his younger sibling's photographic efforts were printed than the buying public required, as Mr Gordon admits. Fortunately, the deference Mr Gordon shows for the best actors is not repeated in his discussions of the royal family. At about the same time as Mr Gordon was dealing with Prince Andrew, his phone was being tapped, he suspects. Not because of the royal connection but because one of the books he was dealing with was Spycatcher by Peter Wright (and Paul Greengrass), the inside story of MI5 which made many lawyers rich. It is an amusing episode with dodgy VAT inspectors with a special interest in the files marked W visiting Mr Gordon's offices. Spycatcher is one of the two best-known books Mr Gordon has been associated with - the other being The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, as Mr Gordon says, with a different kind of secrecy and a different kind of mole. The world will not be changed by this book but nor has it been shortchanged by its publication. Its appeal is not universal but as a window on London literary life, it has the best of Grub Street. Mr Gordon's expositions on the dramatic art, comparing the actor to the boxer are stimulating and his enthusiasm about the British theatre is infectious. The same applies to his views on writing. Away from the bons mots and indiscretions which pepper and lighten this work, Mr Gordon gives us hope that books do more than furnish a room.