Matt Wardman writes:
This is not within the strict remit of the SPCK campaign group, but we are a network including booksellers, readers, authors, publishers and all manner of interested parties – so I thought I would run a flag up the flagpole.
Future of Church House Publishing
Phil Groom has posted about a decision to hand over Church House Publishing, currently owned by the Archbishops’ Council which is the Church of England “Cabinet”, to the Hymns Ancient & Modern company:
The Archbishops’ Council is in discussion with Hymns Ancient & Modern with a view to outsourcing the Council’s publishing services. The proposed agreement would maintain the Council’s long-term commitment to publishing liturgy, key reference titles and other resources for the Church.
Clearly the SPCK/Brewer experience has caused us to realise that the people who will get hurt – if anyone does – who are the staff, customers and suppliers, need to have a voice. This applies even – and I need to emphasise this – if the other party is basically trusted as is certainly the case with Hymns Ancient & Modern, which is a different world from Philip and J Mark Brewer.
There are still important questions about the concentration of influence and other questions, and Phil puts this better well:
- Does the Church of England need an independent voice for its publishing division?
- Is it right to concede so much control of the Church’s voice to the owners of the Church Times?
- What provision — pastoral as well as financial — is being made for staff who now face the very real possibility of redundancy?
There is more detail on Wannabe Priest’s blog.
Anglican Books Forum
That has set off the thought whether we need a group / network / whatever that can be an arena where the range of people interested in books can have these conversations.
These are some initial thoughts.
- When the Brewer detail is finally revealed, everyone will be looking for a network or body to comment on these kind of questions.
- The current question around CHP demonstrates the need for something independent but comprehensive to raise alarm.
- I’m suggesting that such a setup could have its seed as a spinoff from SPCKSSG.
- We have seen the the need for an Anglican focus, e.g., a group that can raise a hue and cry in General Synod etc if necessary, but also be consulted by e.g., the Archbishops’ Council. Of course there’s a “promote books” role as well.
- Needs to encompass publishers /booksellers /readers /writers / bookstaller people / various other stakeholders.
Note: clearly “books” is the wrong word, since we are in a multimedia age – but it’s the best I could do for now.
This needs to be talked about more widely, since it is not our core purpose – which continues to be the scrutiny of the run down of the former-SPCK bookshop chain until the bitter (or not) end.
Also, it’s not something we can drive from here – anyone interested in picking up the baton? We can advise.
What do you think?