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10 Years of Publishing

10 Years of Publishing

This year, we celebrate 10 years of publisher at Onwards and Upwards. Director Luke Jeffery reflects on the past decade and imagine how publishing work could develop in the years to come…

Our publishing work was launched in the midst of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, a challenging time for many businesses but especially for those offering luxury or entertainment goods, which consumers will often cut back on when finances are tight. It was in this economic environment that my father reported receiving an instruction from God during a church meeting – to help a wider range of authors get their books published. This is encouraging for us all, because at a time when the Christian book market seemed threatened, God’s vision seemed to be for expansion! Indeed, whilst there have been significant business closures over the past decade, we have also seen the beginnings of new publishers, bookshops and resource providers, as well as established businesses in the industry finding novel and innovative ways of bringing Christian values and the gospel to the wider society, in addition to supplying the church with invaluable resources.

I spoke recently to a bookshop owner whose business began during the same financial crisis 10 years ago. They have reported growth year on year, but I find even more exciting the ways that they have explored to reach the wider community with God’s word, such as donating carefully selected books to libraries and connecting with local schools. Indeed, I believe that generosity is one of their keys to the success of what they term their “mission”. In times of change, our human inclination is usually to hold on tightly to what we have; yet we are encouraged to be open-handed and open-hearted, to live our lives with the Kingdom of Heaven and eternity in mind. So, let’s continue to take risks where the gospel is concerned and to explore new ways to reach our communities.

One of our recent ventures has been to set up a bookshop for a local church. We wanted to try something a little different to a traditional in-church shop, though. Instead of organising books by the usual categories – biographical, teaching, bibles etc. – we began by studying the church’s vision. Then we selected and categorised books according to the seven aspects of the vision. By adding signage and a banner, we were able to make it clear to church members what aspects of their vision each selection of books would support. The challenge is, of course, that we need to know enough about the books we are selling to categorise them and to ensure that they match the church culture and teaching. The great benefit, however, is that selling the books is relatively easy, as people can more readily see the relevance of the resources provided. Moreover, matching books to a church vision demonstrates to the church leaders that we share their goals and are truly working together with them to build up and support the Christian community. This is one example of a way that as publishers and bookshops we can fine tune our offerings to meet the local needs.

In summary then, I find that my level of expectation and hope has grown over the past decade. Far from settling into an established way of doing business, I believe that it is now a season for innovation and exploration for the whole industry. It is a time to be praying hard, listening attentively and taking steps of faith. It’s time to plant new seeds…





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