IBS-STL an opportunity?

I’m saddened to see the financial problems of IBS-STL who
run Wesley Owen, Authentic Media and others. The temptation is to view
financial difficulty as a wholly bad thing but it is an opportunity to take a
fresh approach and I hope there is a positive outcome.

 

Finding a buyer for the Wesley Owen chain of stores will not
be easy. Running bookshops in an Amazon age requires imagination and I suspect
the store locations and layouts would make it hard to copy the
Borders/Starbucks style retail environment. There is perhaps a future in a form
of ‘franchise’ venture with local churches looking to create or maintain a high
street presence.

 

I very much hope the book publishing continues. I’m
convinced there is a market for quality Christian publishing in the UK
and Paternoster has a good track record here. Personally I would look to create
a company, like Traidcraft, where the shareholders provide capital for public
benefit rather than a financial return.

 


This also creates an opportunity to move away from the
growing comodification of Christian media in the UK.
Whilst the causes of this are complex, and not STL’s fault, it seems to me that
having media production, distribution and marketing in the hands of a small
number of organisations isn’t a good thing.  Perhaps a greater diversity reflecting the breadth of the church in the UK, higher quality which moves away from 'how God healed my hamster' publishing towards resources which equip every disciple and an ability to invest in creativity giving a platform to emerging artists. The realities of commercial life will not make it easy but maybe it is possible something positive arises from the ashes.

8 thoughts on “IBS-STL an opportunity?

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  1. anyone think of chatting to Jeremy Mudditt (if he is still with us on earth) what he thinks could / should be done with the “mess of potage” that is saga of STL/ WO / AM?

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  2. Why doesn’t anyone think of BOOK BUSES that move around the country on a fixed route and with a fixed schedule…? “Mobile mediatainment.” I really like this idea. Huge buses with mobile book stores and lots of costumer service, of course…

    Just an idea from Saina Veigel, trained bookmerchant and freelance TV producer from Germany who gave up selling books online (too many competitors) and who will not risk selling books as an independant bookseller in a local store either.

    I will post this idea on the UKCBD blog by Phil Groom,too.

    Best wishes, Saina

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  3. If you want to keep up to date with this debate, the best summary I’ve found is http://christianbookshopsblog.org.uk/2009/12/09/the-future-shape-of-christian-bookselling/

    I continue to believe that we need quality Christian publishing in the UK, a commercially viable distribution system that encourages diversity and some pattern of retail outlets which encourage discipleship and engage enquirers (though this is harder to do than talk about).

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  4. From Robin Parry’s blog, an except from an STL press release: “Authentic Book Publishing (including Paternoster)and 8 Wesley Owen Stores (Bath Birmingham, Bristol, Bromley, Coleraine, Derby, Glasgow and York) have been sold to Koorong, which is owned by the Bootes family. Based in Sydney, Koorong has 18 stores operating successfully throughout Australia. It has purchased all of the Authentic and Paternoster intellectual property and author contracts, the freehold properties in Glasgow and York, the Wesley Owen trading name, and the domain name, wesleyowen.com. They plan to continue to operate from the Milton Keynes area.”

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