Meeting between ex-SPCK staff and suppliers.

In May a group of us got together at CRE just to talk and catch up after we had left the SPCK/SSG Bookshops. A number of people who were there were publishers and others who had supported us, such as Phil Groom and Dave Walker (Cartoon Church Blog). Out of the discussions came this blog and the idea of a meeting to see if there was someway the years of knowledge of the SPCK staff could be used and not wasted, as appears to be happening now.

Well we now have a time, date and venue for the meeting. The date is Wednesday 10th September. The time is 2pm. The venue is SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd, 13-17 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9PN, UK.

Please use this forum to discuss needs and agenda items.

If you can come please let me know via

Phelim McIntyre

10 responses to “Meeting between ex-SPCK staff and suppliers.

  1. Phelim,

    Exactly what is the purpose of this meeting – the phrase and statement:
    ‘a meeting to see if there was someway the years of knowledge of the SPCK staff could be used and not wasted, as appears to be happening now.’
    is rather uninforming to myself and a number of my ex-colleagues that i have spoken with this last week.

    We would also be interested in knowing exactly what we are looking to discuss – I am sure that yourself and the publishers who are coming must have some slightly more concrete ideas on what sort of things you are envisaging and it would be helpful to know this if possible please.

    Also I feel it needs to be stated that some of us feel our accumulated years of service knowledge has not been wasted or is being wasted – as it is utilised within other aspects of our lives and communities, and indeed to be fair it is still used regularly through the new work we are undertaking – I know as well that there are many other SPCK ex-staff who are utilising their knowledge in new ventures and new jobs.
    I concede for many this may not be so – but I still question whether it true their knowledge is really ‘wasted’??
    Would this not mean that whenever an employee left for any reason that they were wasting this knowledge that left with them? I personally don’t think so, I think knowledge increases us and is never lost. Misplaced maybe but never lost!

    Also is it not potentially arrogant of us to believe that the knowledge we working within SPCK bookshops had is not repeated elsewhere in the Christian Bookselling trade – I use our own Phil Groom as an example of where someone not from within SPCK Bookshops has what would seem to be an equal grasp and measure of the subject and ranges we covered!
    I am quite sure -positive actually- that there are yet others out there as well that do indeed have the same knowledge of the subjects etc.

    Many of the people I have worked with throughout the SPCK chain used their knowledge not only in the shops but in their parishes anyway – indeed many many of the people I know and worked with came to us from having worked in their parishes and had an interest in our subject and work that predated their employment with SPCK bookshops and they brought that knowledge to SPCK – they may have expanded it whilst there but for most it predated and postdated their employment!

    I also wonder if statements like this are not a bit unfair to the ex-staff out there who have gone on to other jobs within the Christian trade already and also those that have or are currently taking the plunge into going independent with all the very great associated risks attached to this!
    This statement makes no acknowledgment of them and the way they are putting themselves and their knowledge out there! I know there are now quite a few undertaking these new ventures, some in a more public way and others more privately and yet quietly active behind the scenes of our boards!

    So I have to say that I would be interested in knowing how many other people out there really feel that their knowledge is being wasted and not used – as of the ones I worked most closely with there is only one who feels even a little like this.

    But I really hope that we don’t continue to fall into the trap of constantly using negative words and expressions that don’t build up but instead add to a feeling of malaise and depression – lets look at what is being done and what can be done, not at what has been done to us and what isn’t being done!
    Let’s try to only use positive words and phrases for this – lets celebrate the good things and the good initiatives and the instances of positivity that can be already be found, nurtured and grown!
    There has been enough heartache so can we try not to perpetuate this when talking about moving forward now.

    I really look forward to finding out more about what the meeting might really involve and finding out what people are hoping for and to do!

  2. Thanks for the compliment, me 🙂

    I’ve no idea what’s on the agenda for this meeting, but hope it proves helpful for those who attend.

    Any ex-SPCKers in the York or Cardiff areas seeking employment might do well to enquire at St Paul’s, currently recruiting for their new shop in York; or at Churches Together, Cardiff. Here’s a press release about Cardiff with contact info; no idea how they’re doing for staff: could be they’ve already recruited the former SPCK people… (interesting letter here from Tom Arthur, who’s been heading up the Cardiff project).

  3. Phelim McIntyre

    Me – at the meeting at CRE we looked round the table and calculated that we had over 150 years of experience of bookselling sat around talking. With the closure of Chester over 200 years worth of bookselling expereince and knowledge was thrown away. The aim of the meeting is to discuss if there are anyways that this knowledge can be used either by or with the support of the Christian publishers. This could be to start a bookshop or working with the publishers in some way. At the moment the meeting is to explore whether this is a possible way forward. While I was at the Chichester shop (so am ex-SPCK) the idea for this came from publishers. Their attitude is that waster of this knowledge from the booksellers is criminal.

    While the aim is try and see how knowledge can be used there is another aspect of this highlighted by the death of Steve Jeynes. This is the fact that in many ways SPCK was a family. People were there as a vocation not just a job. The publishers recognise this. How can the publishers and exSPCK staff support each other.

    Hope this help explains things. As yet there is not set agenda. This will come from comments from ex-staff and publishers. What we want to see is something saved from the mess the Brewers have made of what was the SPCK bookshops. How can we do this?

    Me, I am also in touch with a lot of people who are stepping out in ventures – the publishers want to help them. If they do not know about them they can not. I am also in touch with a lot of people who have not found anything, some who have been out of SPCK for over a year and do not have email. Some of these feel adandoned by those who have found something to do. Lots of people are hurting and everyone needs to support each other. This is one way that people can do this. If there are other ways please let us know.

  4. Picking up on Phil Groom’s query, we have Ruth Dickinson as manager at the Cardiff shop full time with Terry Cox assisting. Both had been working for SSG when SSG closed the Cardiff shop. We opened yesterday, 22 July. It has been quite a journey.

    About fifteen years ago we took in SPCK when they were no longer able to afford city centre rents, so there has been a book shop at City United Reformed Church for quite a while. When SSG took over we began hearing customers’ concerns at the same time as we were following the background drama on the Cartoon Blog and listening to Ruth and Terry’s experience of Brewer bullying. At one point Mark Brewer sent me an email asking us to take over the shop as a franchise (with a contract almost ridiculously slanted in his favour) and he wanted it signed and returned by that Friday. If it wasn’t so sad this Brewer episode in the life of the Briish book trade would be laughable. The short story is that when they closed the shop here at the end of March the elders appointed me and our church secretary, Patrick Hickey, to explore a way forward, which we did, and I am now chair of a board of directors of which Patrick is secretary. The Brewers wanted £5,000 for the fittings and fixtures. We locked them out and said nothing was moving until the last quarter of rent was paid. So we got the fittings and fixtures and the safe and etc and so on. With backing from the national ecumenical organisation for Wales we named the new shop Churches Together Bookshop, and we got financial backing from City Church, the URC’s National Synod of Wales and the Church in Wales (Anglican). SPCK’s Simon Kingston was been particularly helpful as we were putting together a business plan, as has been Margaret Leaming of Edinburgh’s Cornerstone Bookshop (which went independent of SPCK about a dozen years ago). I find this whole thing rather scarey. As a scholar and a cleric I am singularly unprepared to launch a new career in business. But this is something that simply had to be done for the sake of Welsh churches. Thee was no other mainstream-to-liberal Christian bookshop in the whole principality. We are planning a Grand Opening the first week in September and want to invite everyone who is anyone to celebrate this adventure. I’m hoping this can be a gathering at which some of the major concerns can be addressed that have been floating around on the blogs over the last several months. The issues are not just for the book trade, for for the health of a battered church.

  5. Tom – if you need the meeting to discuss further help please let me know.

  6. Pingback: Comments from Cardiff « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  7. Pingback: Fresh Thought About The September Meeting « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  8. We have been able to benefit from the experience that Steve Foyster has. He took employment with Kevin Mayhew Publishers to run and develop

    He leaves us to bring back a Christian bookshop in Norwich and we wish him every success.

    This does however leave us with a gap to fill and I would be very interested to hear from anyone who feels they have what it takes to run a successful internet bookshop.

    For further details please email Alternatively I would be available to attend the meeting, if that was appropriate.

  9. Pingback: Meeting September 10th: Agenda « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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