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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Robert Hale: The Loss of a British institution

From the Bookseller

Independent publisher Robert Hale Ltd is to “withdraw from publishing” after nearly 80 years, with 10 people from the business made redundant. However, Robert Hale's lists and imprints - NAG Press, J A Allen and Buried River Press - have been acquired by fellow independent publisher The Crowood Press in Wiltshire.

Robert Hale Ltd ceased trading as a publisher on Tuesday (1st December), but will remain in business for the "immediate future" as it begins the process of calculating royalties and closing the company, it said. The company’s chairman, John Hale, said he intends to retire and realise the family’s assets next spring. The decision has resulted in 10 redundancies so far and when the entire company is "formally wound up" next spring, there will be four more people made redundant.
Gill Jackson, managing director of Robert Hale, told The Bookseller: “It is a sad time, but we are delighted that our lists, including our forthcoming titles… have been acquired by The Crowood Press. It is hoped that our authors will be as happy with Crowood as we like to feel they were with us. Certainly we have enjoyed the pleasure and privilege of being associated with so many wonderful writers.”

Founded in 1936 by Robert Hale, the company, based in Clerkenwell Green in London, published fiction and non-fiction and specialised in general hardback fiction, mind, body and spirit, biography and practical reference titles. Robert Hale's J A Allen imprint published books about horse riding and equestrianism and its NAG Press imprint published books about jewellery, precious metals, horology and gemmology.

Robert Hale published authors including Berthold Brecht, Robert Goddard, Harold Robins, Robert Block, Wendy Perriam, E.V. Thompson and Jean Plaidy.

Author Gary Martin Dobbs, whose Jack Martin western novels were published by Robert Hale, said in a blog post: "Hale had been in the book business since 1936 and are the only UK print publisher with a Western line... The UK's government's austerity policies have seen a large number of public libraries closing in recent years. Hale's Western line was largely aimed at the library market so this was a bitter blow. Add to this the upheaval  to traditional publishing caused by the digital revolution, and it is a difficult market within which to do business."

Robert Hale's Design and Production Manager, Catherine
Williams, told The Bookseller: "It is sad indeed that Robert Hale has ceased trading. I've had seven very happy years working for the company and will always be grateful for the opportunities to develop my design and production skills across a wide range of titles. I wish every success to The Crowood Press in continuing the imprints."

John Dennis, chairman of Crowood, said that he was "honoured" to have the Robert Hale imprints on the Crowood list. He added that distribution would pass to Grantham Book Services from 1st December 2015 and all orders thereafter should be transmitted to them.


Nik Morton said...

Very sad to read this, Gary. I didn't get my email so it was a bit of a shock. I've blogged the sad bad news today. Let's hope Crowood continue with the westerns beyond those books contracted.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Nik - I have spoken to Crowood and they state that is it their attention to look at new western submissions. They fully intend to continue the line.

Chap O'Keefe said...

I can only add what others have already said: Very sad. Ironically, I was completely incommunicado with the brave new digital world while all this was being announced last week. On November 26, my wife and I moved into a retirement village. Although we had arranged with our phone and broadband supplier for service to the new address, they failed to deliver until December 5 (and even then I had to rely on a savvy son to complete the connection). It will be a pleasant surprise if Crowood Press can restore the Black Horse Western line to what had been for many years fragile viability.

Joanne said...

Glad to hear there's a glimmer of hope. I'd hate to see my library shelves empty. :(

Michael Parker said...

My titles are now with Crowood, but being mainly a non-fiction publisher, I wonder what effort will be put into promoting them. Naturally it was sad to read of Hale's demise, but in the ever changing world of publishing, it looks as though the weakest go to the wall. I have a lot to thank John Hale for, and Gill Jackson who published my last two titles.