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Alan Guy Taylor

by
19 June 2015

A correspondent writes:

GUY TAYLOR, a champion of bookselling in churches and cathedrals, who died on 7 June, a month short of his 83rd birthday, was born in Beckenham. Shortly afterwards, his family moved to the country, outside Overton near Wrexham, where he spent his childhood.

He was educated at Clayesmore School, Dorset. His interest in the Christian book trade began around 1955, when he was still working for the De Havilland Aircraft Company in Chester, and he helped his mother, who was a volunteer on the cathedral bookstall. His involvement and interest grew rapidly.

Aware that there was no national organisation for cathedral bookstalls, and no established arrangement for sharing information, he used one of his annual holidays in the early 1960s to visit more or less every cathedral bookstall in the country. This was following a suggestion given to him by the Revd Peter Nicholson (then Precentor of Peterborough Cathedral) for an inter-cathedral bookstalls newsletter, as a means of exchanging useful information. Arising from this, an association was formed, and Guy established the Bookstalls Newsletter in 1964.

In 1968, Guy met John Mortimer at a church bookstall managers' conference. John asked Guy if all church bookstall managers could receive the newsletter, previously sent only to cathedrals; and so A Bookstalls Newsletter grew to a circulation of 4000, encompassing the whole of the Christian book trade. Guy also produced Cathedral News, which was distributed with the newsletter. It covered information on merchandise other than books which cathedral shops were in the custom of selling.

Guy's first employment in the book trade was as a sales representative with the Christian publishers Marshall, Morgan & Scott. He then joined SPCK's Christian Publishers' Representatives, with whom he worked for more than six years before forming his own company, A. Guy Taylor Limited, which represented a number of Christian book publishers, and covered the whole of the UK and Ireland. A small force of representatives was employed, and the company was very successful for several years.

The Newsletter and the Church and Cathedral Shops Association became part of his company's activities. As the trade changed, the company contracted, and Guy retired in 2001 for health reasons.

On his retirement, Guy approached Paul Chandler, then General Secretary of SPCK, and the Good Bookstall website was born and took over from the Newsletter. It has grown and flourished ever since.

As Parkinson's disease took its toll, Guy moved to Skell Lodge residential home in Ripon, in 2011. With courage and determination, he refused to give in, and maintained many of his activities and interests throughout.

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