Next week the offices of R. L. Allan will be up and running in the new London digs. To mark the occasion, Ian Metcalfe shares a few words with Bible Design Blog readers about the transition, his own experiences in Bible publishing, and the next generation. -- JMB It is an immense privilege to be taking over the fine Bibles publishing business R.L. Allan from my uncle Nicholas Gray. It was my great-grandfather, John Gray, who first dealt with R.L. Allan––licensing hymnbook rights from them for the family publishing business, Pickering & Inglis. Then in the 1960s my grandfather, Andrew Gray, bought the company itself when he was at the helm of P&I’s in his turn.
Andrew Gray commanded considerable respect within Plymouth Brethren circles in Glasgow and beyond––I certainly remember hearing the great publishing stories when visiting Glasgow as a young child in the 1970s. The 1980s were a more tumultuous time for the business, but when I landed at HarperCollins in the mid-90s I was proud to have the opportunity to work on books that had been acquired by him 30 years before, perhaps most notably Joni Eareckson Tada’s memoir, which was still a bestseller.
I cut my teeth in the Production Department at HarperCollins Religious, as it was then, quickly getting to grips with the challenges of producing quality Bibles and Liturgical products. Moving on to Editorial, I took overall responsibility for the Bibles list just as we launched the ESV Anglicised in the UK back in 2002, as well as overseeing the publishing of the King James Version, New Revised Standard Version, Good News Bible (a bestseller in the UK, especially for schools), J.B. Phillips New Testament and Contemporary English Version.
This experience stood me in good stead for the move to Hodder & Stoughton, where the NIV was in great need of reinvigoration. With new ultra-readable typesettings, and now a revised text that reflects much more accurately the original writers’ intentions, we now have the UK’s widest range of Bibles, all created with a clarity of purpose to help people engage with the Bible more effectively.
Dominique and I are delighted to have the opportunity of taking R.L. Allan on into this new chapter in its 150th year, as its own list of translations burgeons. Our aim is to build on its fine tradition of beautiful, handcrafted Bibles and to remain focused on offering the highest possible levels of personal service to our loyal customers.
We are thrilled to be continuing the family tradition of Bible publishing into the fourth generation.
-- Ian MetcalfeR L Allan & Son Publishers Ltd Unit 3, Thorogood House Tolworth Close Tolworth Surrey KT6 7EW tel +44 (0) 208 399 2352 www.bibles-direct.co.uk