ACW

ACW

Monday, 6 February 2017

An unwelcome phone call, by Tony Collins


My phone rang: a woman, an unfamiliar voice. In clear, dry tones she introduced herself and explained the situation.
As many will have heard, Lion Hudson has submitted a notice of intent to appoint administrators. 35 staff have been made redundant, including myself, and 18 remain. A long struggle with debt has brought about this situation, together with gradual changes in publishing practice around the world which meant that the bedrock of the enterprise, the multiple language co-editions, was less viable than before. Ironically the budget for the first nine months of the year had been exceeded: the company still has significant strengths.
 Essentially the company continues. The forward programme, the output of books, may be somewhat slowed, and some big colour projects are likely to be put on temporary hold, but key commissioning staff have been retained, to maintain and build the lists. Authors will still get paid, and their books remain on sale.
 It is possible the company will be sold - despite its debts it remains a valuable entity, with a profitable backlist - and we will know in the next few weeks whether this is likely to happen. The alternative is that the company will trade its way back to independence, settling accounts with creditors over the next 15 months or so. This decision is in the hands of the administrators.
 Over the course of 40 years in publishing I have been made redundant twice, and have twice had to implement a redundancy programme, which gave me much greater heartache. Publishing is a marginal business, as a moment's reflection on once-flourishing imprints will tell you: it is not many years since Kingsway ruled the world of evangelical books. And companies recover: SPCK, now a powerful force, was on its financial uppers not so long ago.
 I grieve for my younger colleagues who have lost their jobs. I grieve for the truncating of a talented culture full of cheerfulness and determination and enthusiasm. It takes years for good practice to develop, and a moment to cast it down. Any redundancy programme is inherently wasteful of skills and social capital.
It’s a bereavement, of course: the loss of the team. And, in my case, a severing of history, because I started the Monarch imprint in 1988. But, having got over the shock – the anger is another matter, for a different time frame – I am starting to wonder what God has next in store.  The Lord makes all things new, if I can say that without sounding like an irritating preacher.  My very capable colleagues will find new jobs. If it is allowed the opportunity Lion Hudson will rebuild.
And I? I have ideas, but no clear sense yet of direction. For a little while I am going to make things out of wood, and ponder, and read, and pray.
If anyone has specific questions I will do my best to respond. Just at present I have plenty of time.

Tony Collins worked with Lion Hudson plc as publisher and editor since it was first set up in 2004. He is author of Taking My God for a Walk (Monarch).

14 comments:

  1. This is sad. Making things is a very worth-while occupation. It is rewarding to have a visible reminder of what has been achieved. Sue

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing such a personal reaction. I sense many ACWers are mourning the temporary loss of a publisher whose vision and values chime so powerfully with our own. Prayers for the future of the company and for those like yourself who find themselves in a new and unexpected place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was really sorry to hear about this, Tony. It is a difficult time for publishers and sad to see a Christian Publisher. being affected this way.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comments everyone. Down but not out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Having very recently read 'Taking my God for a Walk' (which I will review soon) I suspect that your pilgrim experience may have some bearing on your response to this upsetting news. Correct me if I'm wrong, please. The old saying about doors opening and closing has relevance, as you imply. It's just that at times the corridor seems rather featureless. You and the company and the staff have the prayers of many.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Was a shock to learn about the situation at Lion, which began, I think, in the 1970s full of optimism, and looking to produce at that time colourful, informative Christian-based books aimed at the 'middle-brow 'market. I remember The Lion Handbook to the Bible, with time-charts of Biblical events, archaeology, etc. As you say, SPCK has risen again, so there is hope ... all best for the woodworking, reading, and prayer ...

    ReplyDelete
  7. I still have our Lion Handbook, too. We have used it so much over the years. Enjoy making things out of wood, Tony. That sounds like a very reasonable plan of action in the circumstances. I'm sad to hear the news.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Prayers for LH, and next steps for you all Tony. Bex

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sad news indeed. Printing and publishing has never stood still. I guess, back in the day, Gutenburg led to more than a few changes of occupation for monks. The way this has affected you personally reminds us yet again of the human cost of change, and I pray that you will soon find something where your skills and experience can be used. You have begun with this blog which, in itself, is an insight and an encouragement for others. Thank you. Our prayers go with you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So sorry to lose this awesome publisher and sorry for all the staff too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jane Brocklehurst8 February 2017 at 16:32

    So sorry you lost your job. The whole situation is sad. Wishing you (all) blessings and a sense of direction, whatever happens next.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's very tough, especially for the younger ones, but also for one like yourself nearer the far end of a career - the sense of being the pilot who is dropped off. But I trust there are great things in store as yet unknown!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's very tough, especially for the younger ones, but also for one like yourself nearer the far end of a career - the sense of being the pilot who is dropped off. But I trust there are great things in store as yet unknown!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am praying for LH and all the staff - those who now have to find work elsewhere and those working hard to rebuild the publishing house.

    ReplyDelete