Daily Archives: September 24, 2008

Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Mark Brewer Responds

Sign the Petition
Just sign it: you know you want to. Already signed it? Talk about it. The petition remains open until the Brewers are no longer in control of the Cathedral bookshop and will be resubmitted to the Dean at each multiple of 50 signatures. Yesterday, September 23rd, we passed another milestone at 250 signatures…

Phil Groom writes:

I have mixed feelings over this. On the one hand, I’m delighted to receive confirmation that Mark Brewer has found our petition. On the other, I’m appalled by his response. Read on and I think you’ll understand the problem. He’s taken to writing to people signing it; to at least one person anyway:

Subject: RE: In memoriam
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 16:25:37 -0500
From: Brewer@bplaw.com
To: jacqui smith

Dear Ms. Smith,

I’m trying really hard to understand you. You signed a petition blog to stop a Christian bookshop in Durham cathedral. Can this be right?

From the subject line, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mark is preparing an epitaph ready for the shop’s inevitable demise. The truth, unfortunately, is far more sobering than that: Mark’s enquiry about the petition is a follow-up to some earlier correspondence with Jacqui, but whilst he changed the subject, he didn’t change the subject line:

From: jacqui smith 
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 3:57 PM
To: Mark Brewer
Subject: RE: In memoriam

Dear Mr Brewer
I’m trying really hard to understand you. You stopped a blog with a page dedicated to Steve Jeynes. Can this be right?

Jacqui is, of course, referring to Mark Brewer’s threat of legal action against Dave Walker, the now well known ‘Cease and Desist’ demand sent on July 22 which Dave felt left him with no option but to take down all of his SPCK related material, including the page of tributes to Steve Jeynes. Brewer’s parroting of Jacqui’s message to him seems rather like a re-run of his parroting of MadPriest’s “I am Dave Walker”. MadPriest filed that under lame. No doubt it’s supposed to be clever, but I’m filing this under outrageous (for the record, I should point out that Mark did send an earlier reply to Jacqui’s enquiry, in which he denies any responsibility for the removal of the tributes page; that, too, I find outrageous).

Mark, if you happen to be reading this, I’d like to take this opportunity to help you understand: it is not, as you put it, a petition “to stop a Christian bookshop in Durham cathedral” — it is, rather, a petition to save the Christian bookshop in Durham Cathedral, to rescue it from those who are ruining it. From you, Mark, and your brother, Philip. If that’s not clear enough for you, perhaps the following quote from justflyingkites will do the trick. It’s a little blunt, unfortunately, but it expresses exactly how an increasing number of people are feeling:

Mark Brewer can you get it into your skull that people are mad at you because of what you have done to Christian Bookselling. Stop looking for somebody else to blame. You have refused to take advice from booksellers in your shops. You insist on knowing what everyone needs and when shoppers leave in their droves you find somebody else to blame.

As I said yesterday, Mark, it really is time to call it day. But if you won’t listen to me or to those commenting here, please listen to the voices of the prospective customers you’re alienating in Durham. More than 250 people have signed the petition now. These comments are from two of the most recent signatories:

As a tutor at Cranmer Hall, Durham for the past ten years I have relied on the Cathedral bookshop to supply good quality texts for myself and our students. I am deeply saddened by the loss of this resource and by the treatment of the staff. I wish to support the Chapter in moving speedily to a positve resolution.

— Revd Dr Gavin Wakefield, 23rd Sept 2008

As a P/T Anglican ordinand doing the MATM course, now in my third year, I have been greatly distressed by the marked deterioration in the stock held by the Durham Cathedral Bookshop over the past year. As a result I have been buying many books through Amazon which, in the past, I would have bought in the Bookshop.

— Dr Caroline Friswell, 23rd Sept 2008