THE religious division of Collins, the publishers taken over recently by Rupert Murdoch's News International group, is to be merged with a leading Evangelical house, it was announced this week. Collins' Fount, Liturgical and Bible sections, which together make the company, Britain's leading religious publisher, are to join forces with Marshall Pickering whose evangelical reputation is long established.
Marshall Pickering is a subsiduary of another News International company, US publishers, Harper and Row. Its editorial and sales teams will be integrated into the Collins structure with no compulsory redundancies, although several staff at both organisations had announced their resignation prior to the merger.
At the time of Mr Murdoch's take-over of Collins, senior staff at the religious division expressed fears that its independence would be compromised, and that within a large corporation balance sheets would play more of a role than editorial judgement. The managing director of the merged religious division, Collins Ron Chopping, sought to allay such
fears this week. -There are no plans to change the editorial identity and mission of imprints" he assured staff.
One likely victim oldie merger will be Marshall's Lamp list. The imprint, which was set up recently to challenge Collins Fount list of popular spiritual books, is thought to have little future in the merged structure.
Some of Collins best known religious authors, are distrusful of the larger corporate structure, thought to be negotiating with other smaller independent religious publishing houses.