Archive for February, 2011

Book Trade; Phew – 8 weeks that started the year

February 27, 2011 2 comments

This list documents extraordinary activity in the wider Book Trade in a few short weeks;

  • UK book sales fell 3% in 2010, selling £56m less than in 2009
  • NIV Bible eBook tops the USA bestseller list over the New Year
  • 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible
  • Barnes & Noble USA do well over Christmas – thanks to their Nook eReader
  • Physical book sales continue to decline around the world
  • British Bookshops and Stationers go into administration
  • eBook debate intensifies – but with little clarity emerging
  • Digital Book World Conference is held in New York
  • Kindle; the most popular eBook reader – with sales overtaking paperbacks
  • Amazon record their first £10bn sales quarter
  • Waterstones owner HMV; shuts 11 UK stores, cuts HO jobs
  • WH Smith buy 22 British Bookshops and Stationers stores
  • UK Libraries under massive pressure due to imminent spending cuts
  • Borders USA enters Chapter 11 – and is effectively bankrupt
  • REDgroup Australia goes bust – leaving big UK debts
  • Borders Singapore shuts its doors
  • Zondervan loses its President and CEO, Moe Girkins
  • Gardners launches the HIVE website in the UK
  • STL Distribution UK rebrands as Trust Media Distribution
  • Living Oasis has its ups and downs, causing uncertainty

Only another 10 months left for this year – don’t hold your breath!


Travel – Airports and the new World Order

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Airports are under development everywhere. I travelled through London Heathrow this past week. Hurrah – Terminal 2 has been knocked down and is being rebuilt (costing £1bn, opening in 2014). Terminal 1 will be next. Shed no tears, it’s long overdue (as per my previous rant). T3 was crowded, noisy and unpleasant and, on the way back, it took over 50 minutes for my bags to appear! LHR remains the world’s busiest airport – with over 66m people passing though last year – but for how much longer, I wondered, particularly now that its third runway has been kicked into the long grass.

As I write I’m in Singapore, flying home from Changi airport; consistently voted as one of the best airports in the world. It truly is – due to a heady mix involving acres of space, unanticipated zones of peace and quiet plus wonderful levels of efficiency and … the Butterfly House! During 2010, Changi handled 42 million passengers and won 25 ‘Best Airport’ awards.

There’s a revolution going on in the world of the airport. The ongoing growth of the Gulf and Asian airlines is being matched by an explosion in new airport infrastructure. Europe is losing out. Its legacy airport hub system is aging and under extreme pressure as the stop-over traffic moves elsewhere. Airline business and passenger traffic is rapidly moving east. Heathrow, Frankfurt and Schiphol are losing out to the likes of Dubai and Changi, particularly when it comes to flying to Australia. Passengers on the ‘Kangaroo route’ are deliberately choosing to fly with the Gulf and Asian airlines, boycotting European carriers on grounds of lower cost, better service and increased flexibility. British Airways and the European carriers are seeing Emirates, Qatar and Singapore Airlines dilute their traditional market via competitive pricing, newer planes and increased connections.

The impact of the A380 on the travel market has been huge. This is the plane of choice now for many, myself included, despite the recent shock of the Qantas / Rolls Royce engine explosion (since resolved). Emirates alone ordered another 32 of the superjumbos last year to add to the 58 aircraft already arriving. Singapore Airlines currently operates 11 of these planes (with 8 more on order) – but BA has deferred its order for 12 planes and will not take delivery until between 2012 and 2016.

The Gulf States are either building from new or upgrading their airport facilities at a frenetic pace. Their goal is to provide world-class transit hubs from which travellers, especially those from the emerging markets of India and China, can reach the rest of the world, bypassing the need to route via the older European gateways. For these countries, Europe is no longer the hub for reaching the world but simply a destination. Transiting via Dubai is like watching the entire world on the move, with people passing through en route to seemingly every country in the world.





Dubai alone welcomes 120 different airlines from around the world and has just opened the new Al Maktoum airport with its five runways. Qatar is overhauling its Doha airport, completely replacing the current facility. This will open in 2012 thereby doubling its capacity. At 22 sq. km. it will be one of the largest airports in the world, half of it built from land reclaimed from the sea. Oman will complete a brand new terminal building later this year.

The Economist reported recently that ‘there will soon be more capacity at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha than at Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt combined’; the revolution in air travel is indeed gathering pace.

The one cloud on the horizon may be the gathering political turbulence across the Middle East, potentially threatening its stability. Will air travellers continue to want to transit via an increasingly volatile region?

Celtic Christianity – in the Footsteps of St Kentigern (or St Mungo)

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I lived in the North of England for 15 years. As a southerner, and therefore an ‘incomer’, it took a while for it to fully sink in that the northern counties of England were Christianised very early on in our island history. Monks, mainly from Ireland, had sailed across and planted Monasteries and Churches from Galloway in southern Scotland to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. This was not the Rome-centric Christian faith but the more vigorous and earthier Celtic form.

It’s a hugely thrilling and inspiring story which has impacted on many aspects of the Northern landscape.  I returned south 15 years later with a much greater appreciation of the mystery and beauty of a Celtic faith that is anchored so very securely in the ‘here and now’. It certainly strengthened my experience of God and I remain very grateful for the experience.

In my opinion, the best exponent of Celtic Spirituality is David Adam (his books published mainly by the SPCK).

You cannot live in these Northern counties very long before you come across the name of ‘Mungo’; usually as a place name (as in Mungrisdale in the Lake District) but more often as the founding name of a Church. I started to look into the story of this 6th century Saint … and what a story it is! Much of what we know of his life comes from Jocelyn, a monk at Furness Abbey, writing his hagiography in around 1180AD.

Mungo was an early Saint – to give him his baptismal name, Kentigern – who literally evangelised his way across Scotland, England and Wales. There are places (notably Glasgow, Cumbria and St Asaph) in all three countries of the UK which have an association with St Mungo.

Kentigern was born in 516AD at Culross on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. He was almost certainly of royal blood but illegitimate. His father was a King of Rheged and his grandfather was King Loth (hence the name, Lothian). Kentigern was brought up in the Culross monastery and grew to become a godly man. As with St Cuthbert, we have several accounts of his miracles. At age 20, he left the monastery (due to certain petty jealousies) and travelled south on a missionary journey to Glasgow. He was obviously successful as he was consecrated very early on as the first Bishop of Strathclyde, conducting evangelistic trips into Aberdeenshire. He always travelled on foot, becoming known as St Mungo (meaning one dearly beloved).

Due to persecution which arose in Scotland, Kentigern moved south to Carlisle. From there he continued his work preaching to the people of Cumbria and founding a number of Churches across the county (Mungrisdale 550AD, Keswick 553AD). St Mungo then travelled as far south as North Wales where he met St David and founded a Christian community, St Asaph after one of his disciples. When Christianity (in the form of a local King near Penrith) took back control in Cumbria following the battle of Arderydd in 573AD, Kentigern was asked to return from Wales and he did so, travelling back via Cumbria to Scotland.

Kentigern revisited some of the Churches he had established on his way south; Great Crosthwaite (near Keswick), Mungrisdale (St Mungo’s Dale), Castle Sowerby, Caldbeck and Aspatria. All of these places continue to have their dedication to St Mungo.

Kentigern’s (St Mungo) Saints day is the 13 January.  He is rightly remembered as the ‘Apostle of North West England and South West Scotland’. The City of Glasgow’s motto ‘Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name’ and the more secular ‘Let Glasgow flourish’ are both inspired by St Mungo’s original call to “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word”.

Along the way, St Mungo had many run-ins with the Druids but he lived to a good old age dying in his eighties, in either 603AD or 612AD (depending on your source!).

For a very good account of Kentigern’s life, see Shirley Toulson’s book ‘Celtic Journeys’ (Fount 1995) – now OP.

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