Wales

Book publisher Gomer Press to 'wind down' publishing arm

Gomer Image copyright Google
Image caption The company is focusing its efforts on printing, said bosses in a statement on Tuesday

One of Wales' largest publishing houses is to "wind down" publishing new works to focus on printing, its bosses say.

Gomer Press, set up in 1892 and based in Ceredigion, has about 3,500 titles in print in English and Welsh.

It said the decision followed a strategic review, "thus ensuring the future" of its 55 employees, but authors called it a "sad" move.

Gomer said it would continue working with authors and the Books Council of Wales to publish scheduled titles.

It has been publishing about 36 titles a year from its site in Llandysul, according to its website.

But in 2017, boss Jonathan Lewis, the great grandson of the company's founder, said restructuring would secure a firm commercial footing.

Writer Andrew Green, whose book Wales in 100 Objects was published by Gomer last year, said on Twitter that it was "very sad news".

Fellow author Ifan Morgan Jones tweeted: "Very sad to hear that the publishing side of Gwasg Gomer, one of Wales' largest publishing houses, is coming to an end. Founded 127 years ago."

Analysis by Huw Thomas, BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

Gomer's decision to end its publishing business marks the end of a period of restructuring at a company which has been a cornerstone of the Welsh book world for over a century.

While the news has been greeted with sadness by authors and other publishers, there's little surprise that one of its own has decided to step back from the market.

Budgets are tight, forcing greater pressure on the sustainability of Wales's handful of publishing companies which, together, receive government grants to ensure the continuing publication of Welsh interest books alongside their commercially successful titles.

Not all have profitable printing wings to fall back on if sales are slow or grant income is flat.

For Gomer's staff, the hope is that the latest restructure can save their jobs and secure the future prosperity of this historic Welsh printing press.

But for others in the industry it's a reminder of the tight purse strings and tough decisions that may lie ahead.

Writer Jasmine Donahaye tweeted: "Wales can't afford to lose a publisher in either language, but the bad news that Gomer has decided to stop publishing is hardly a surprise. Sympathies to staff and authors in what must be an anxious time."

In its statement, Gomer said it would ensure that "royalties continue to be paid to authors, and that popular books can be reprinted as and when required".

The company has net assets of £1.6m, according to accounts filed at Companies House for the year to 31 March 2018.

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