Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:46 UK

Famous dictionary to close office

Chambers Concise Dictionary
Chambers Dictionary has been published in Edinburgh until now

An Edinburgh-based dictionary company has announced plans to close its offices in the capital.

Chambers Harrap Publishers, Chambers Dictionary publisher, said all 27 staff were expected to be affected.

It is planned Chambers titles will be moved to London to be managed by Hodder Education.

The news marks the end of a 200 year association with Scotland for the dictionary. Managers said they could not find a buyer for Chambers titles.

It is planned parts of the business, Chambers and Harrap, which publish bilingual dictionaries, will be separated.

Both had been hit by the steep decline in sales of dictionaries and reference books, with many people now getting information via the internet.

The market for dictionaries and reference books in print has been in decline for some years and we have looked long and hard for solutions, investigating many options, including trying to find a buyer for Chambers
Hachette UK
Spokesman

Chambers was established almost two centuries ago in 1819, by brothers William and Robert Chambers.

At about that time it printed, bound and published 750 copies of The Songs of Robert Burns.

And in 1867 it published its first dictionary - the Chambers Etymological Dictionary - before publishing the Chambers English Dictionary five years later.

Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd (CHPL) was formed after both W and R Chambers Limited and Harrap Limited were acquired by the French publishing conglomerate Groupe de la Cite in 1992, with the two businesses then merged.

CHPL is now part of the Hodder Education Group, which is a division of Hachette UK.

A spokesman for Hachette UK said: "We have enormous respect for the reputation of both imprints.

"Chambers has a distinguished history in reference publishing and Harrap, from its base in Edinburgh, is a major force in dictionary publishing in France.

"The skill and experience of the staff in both imprints is admired throughout the industry."

'Sad fact'

However, he added: "The market for dictionaries and reference books in print has been in decline for some years and we have looked long and hard for solutions, investigating many options, including trying to find a buyer for Chambers either in Scotland or elsewhere in publishing before ultimately, and very reluctantly, concluding there was no option other than to propose the closure of the Edinburgh offices."

He said that digital revolution meant people moving away from printed reference books and going online where information was generally free.

"This migration affects newspapers and book publishers alike and it is a sad fact that what may be good for the consumer has a major impact on people who earn their living in publishing and journalism," he added.

Under the proposals responsibility for Chambers' titles would shift to Hodder Education in London, while discussions are taking place about transferring responsibility for Harrap's titles to French publishers Larousse.



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