In the summer of 1996 I was a mature student in Manchester trying to find a way to balance study, new parenthood and paying the rent. Looking for work that had something to do with my studies, could fit around lectures and that I might find interesting I saw a small advert in the Christian bookshop for an editorial assistant.
Little did I know that this would take me on a journey for the next six years that has informed much of my work and ministry since.
The magazine was the European Christian Bookstore Journal - a somewhat pedestrian and old-fashioned monthly publication for the Christian book trade. Following some personnel issues I found myself editing the second issue I worked on, having never put a publication "to bed" before. I was plunged into a world an language I had never known before - Quark Express, Spot Colour, TIFF files, proofreading, solus advertising slots etc - and had to make decisions on the spot.
It was always clear to me that the magazine could really well, but needed updating ad redesigning completely, but the structures at the ECBJ offices meant this looked unlikely to happen. After a year of working hard o the magazine financial pressures meant I was forced to seek other work, and I thought that was the end of my time in Christian publishing.
However, in November 1999 ECBJ ceased publication and working with some good friends at Silver Fish Publishing we created a new magazine, Christian Bookseller that was full colour, well-designed and shaped its content around the changing face of Christian retailing in the UK. In fact, the changes prompted us to change the name to Christian Retailer quite soon afterwards.
When Silver Fish went out of business (having recently bought Renewal magazine and subsequently selling it to Premier Media Group/CCP where it merged with Christianity) I, along with a good friend Phil Whittall, formed a new company Sojourn Publications to continue with the idea of a good quality trade magazine - with funding from David Heron, then CEO of Premier. We named the new magazine Christian Marketplace and James Catford (now CEO of the Bible Society) was the wise guiding hand as our Chairman.
Magazines are a difficult business to make work, and at the end of a year I realised that a young family and a business just breaking even didn't go together, so we sold most of titles to Premier where Christian Marketplace has resided until this sad announcement. Phil Whittall was employed by Premier/CCP as editor, while I headed off to Zondervan, before Clem took over and did a great job.
I always wondered when the end would come - it seemed inevitable it would happen eventually - and I am sad to see it go. I remain proud of the fact that the title has lasted so long, providing encouragement and information for those dedicated to Christian retailing.