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Friday, 4 December 2015

Robert Hale closes its doors

I’ve just read some sad and bad news, posted on fellow author Gary Martin Dobbs’ site

Gleaned from The Bookseller, it seems that Robert Hale Ltd ceased trading as a publisher on Tuesday (1st December). The company will remain in business for the "immediate future" as it begins the process of calculating royalties and closing the company.

Hale was founded in 1936 and has been a staple supplier of books to British libraries. A combination of circumstances have led to this ‘end of a British institution’ – closures of local libraries, reduction of funding for local libraries, the e-book revolution that Hale never quite grasped until too late, and the Hale dynasty’s wishes to realise their assets.

Already, ten people from the business have been made redundant; others will follow, apparently, when the company is wound up next spring. 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.

It seems that Crowood will continue to publish Hale’s westerns, though it’s too early to say whether that will continue beyond the contracted titles. I hope it does, as there are a lot of western readers out there who rely on new library editions. Hale published my first novel Death at Bethesda Falls in 2007 – and another five subsequently – and I found them to be helpful, professional, and approachable. I had planned to write a couple more westerns next year, once I'd completed works in progress on three different series.

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.”

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 and all orders should be transmitted to them.

Their respective websites still need updating: Robert Hale will not be accepting any more submissions..

I’m deeply saddened that Robert Hale has gone. The firm leaves behind an enviable record and a proud tradition stretching over almost eighty years.

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