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

10 responses to “Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Mark Brewer Responds

  1. As phil points out, Mark Brewer has essentially missed the point of the petititon- not to close the bookshop but save it. maybe he didn’t actually really read it?

  2. Well said Matt – I signed the petition because the bookshop at Durham is in danger because of the Brewer’s mismanagement. Durham needs a bookshop – the bookshop needs better owners and directors.

  3. Matt, one of the Brewers said that if they hadn’t taken over from SPCK all the shops would have closed. Maybe they think that they are doing Durham a favour by keeping the bookshop open.

    I signed the petition for the same reason as Phelim. I will also do the same when the Chichester petition is launched.

    In the meantime staff in all the SSG bookshops have had to deal with irate customers and suppliers. Can Phil tell them how to order wafers, wine and Chistingle sized candles through Third Space Books?

    Maybe the Brewer family should sign the petition and get the hell out of bookselling.

  4. I meant Phil Brewer not Phil Groom who doesn’t give a Phig for the Brewers.

  5. I, er, phigured that’s who you meant 😉

  6. Do you think Mr Brewer really believes everything he says?
    His comments and actions over the last few months seem increasingly bizarre?!

  7. Annie, bizarre is a good word.

  8. annie, Mr Brewer seems to live in a compleatly different world to us .,one without a conscience,how can one sleep at night.

  9. I’m at a complete loss to understand what can possibly be going on in the mind of someone who parodies an enquiry like Jacqui’s — what does he think this is? A battle of wits? Even now on this blog the all time most visited post remains Steve Jeynes, RIP, with more than double the visits of any other post. What happened to Steve was an absolute tragedy and Brewer’s behaviour here is so out of order that words fail me… ‘outrageous’ really doesn’t cut it…

  10. “and to the point, I think, with respect to Mark Brewer’s complete lack of respect for his workers, and towards Jacqui Smith in particular.

    She writes to him expressing concern about the loss of a page of tributes to a man who committed suicide after Mark Brewer fired him… a page that’s gone missing at his instigation.

    Mark Brewer’s response? Does he move over? Does he apologise? No: he denies all responsibility and replies with a parody of Jacqui’s enquiry.”

    This is an extract from a comment left on my blog recently. Thought i’d share it.

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