Salvation at Hand for St Andrew Press? Kirk Proposes Deal with Hymns Ancient and Modern

SALVATION may be at hand for St Andrew Press, the Church of Scotland’s publishing division, in the shape of Hymns Ancient and Modern (HM&A), which took on publishing responsibilities for the Church of England only last year.

St Andrew Press was faced with the threat of closure earlier this year as part of a controversial cost-cutting exercise by the Kirk which led to John Brown, brother of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, stepping down in protest from his position as a lay member of the Kirk’s Publishing Committee when redundancies left the Press with just one member of staff to oversee operations.

According to the official Kirk announcement, three bids were considered for St Andrew Press and the Mission and Discipleship Council, which is responsible for the Press, felt that the bid from HM&A was “the best option” with a final decision due to be made by the Council of Assembly. The Revd Mark Johnstone, Convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council, described it as “a win win situation for the Church as we get to retain our valuable St Andrew Press brand, increase our market reach and raise money for the Church, all at no cost to us.”

Perhaps he is right, if that’s what winning is about. The press release makes no mention of what a handover of operations to HM&A might cost the sole surviving member of staff or what the implications might be for booksellers in terms of trade representation: at present St Andrew Press is represented by the SPCK-led Christian Publishers Representatives (CPR) team.

If — as seems likely — the deal with HM&A goes through then St Andrew Press would seem set to become part of the growing Norwich Books & Music distribution portfolio alongside Church House Publishing and Darton Longmann & Todd, amongst others. Whilst it will remain possible to place orders via the PubEasy network, it will no longer be possible to pay invoices or process returns via batch.co.uk as NB&M have yet to sign up to batch.

If you, beloved reader, are a batch.co.uk user, perhaps now would be a good time to contact NB&M and gently encourage them to join.

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