June’s Christian Marketplace magazine provides a fairly comprehensive round-up of recent news relating to the ongoing SPCK/SSG shenanigans.
Industry News starts on page 6 and first up is SSG Shops pulled from auction featuring Simon Kingston, SPCK Publishing’s General Secretary and CEO, expressing surprise that the shops were even being offered for sale. Whatever may happen to the shops concerned, however, he confirmed
that there was indeed “a covenant on the freeholds limiting their use for some time to that of Christian bookselling with a broad multi-denominational stockholding.”
Next comes New Bookshop for York: the closure of SSG in York certainly doesn’t spell the end of Christian bookselling in the city as St Paul’s have announced the opening of a new store in September, “making St Paul’s the largest chain of Catholic bookshops in the country.” (Not to mention, of course, the continued presence of the Barbican Bookshop/Wesley Owen on Fossgate).
Moving on to page 7, Beware spckonline.com – Google picks up on my report here warning people of the potential danger of visiting SSG online. Astonishingly, as I write exactly two months since the problem was first reported by a contributor to Dave Walker’s blog on March 31st 2008, SSG still do not appear to have got their house in order and Google’s warning remains in place today (sorry, did I say ‘astonishingly’? My typing finger must have slipped…).
Also on page 7 we have SPCK Publishing off to a record start announcing “the best monthly sales in the history of the company” during January this year, “despite the company no longer having the advantage of their own chain of bookshops, following the transfer to SSG…” Part of that sales boost is, of course, due to the McGraths’ riposte to Richard Dawkins, The Dawkins Delusion.
Finally, page 9, Ex-SPCK Bookshop staff get together reports briefly on the meeting for former SPCK booksellers and others held in Esher on 14th May, which I was privileged to attend.
All in all an excellent round up of news and related stories: my thanks to Clem Jackson, Christian Marketplace’s Editor, for giving me and this blog more than a few honourable mentions along the way, and I suspect I speak for many more when I say particular thanks for helping to keep the SPCK/SSG situation in the spotlight.
If you, gentle reader, are not a subscriber to Christian Marketplace may I encourage you to consider signing up? At only £25 per year (monthly: 12 issues) it’s excellent value for money and will help keep you up to speed with both the world of Christian retail and the world of Christian publishing: never again will you need to ask “What’s new?” — you’ll know already.
May those booksellers still working for SSG find the strength they need to face an uncertain future, and may those whom the Brewers seem to have cast aside so carelessly find justice in their forthcoming employment tribunals: grace and peace to you all.