2003 saw the
publication of the 10th edition of the Chambers Dictionary edited by
Ian Brookes. This edition was launched as part of the Book Festival
in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square. This was followed up by the
publication in September 2005 of the Chambers Dictionary on CD-Rom.
The 11th edition
was launched on the 18th August 2008 in a house in Charlotte Square.
In 2009 there was a
crisis in Edinburgh when it was announced that the entire staff were to
be made redundant and the historic offices were to close. The
complicated take-overs meant that Chambers was owned by Hachette. In a
press statement in 2009 the company attempted to clarify the situation
"Chambers Harrap Publishers Limited’s (CHPL) business falls into
two principal parts, Chambers and Harrap. CHPL has 27 employees.
Chambers produces monolingual English dictionaries and other English
subject and language reference publications, including
Brewer’s. Most sales of Chambers titles are in or from the
Harrap produces bilingual dictionaries and other bilingual
publications, including a successful range of language learning
materials. The vast majority of Harrap sales (around 90%) are in or
from France where Larousse already acts as its distributor.
The Chambers publishing business was established in 1819, Harrap Limited was formed in 1901.
In 1992, W & R Chambers Limited was acquired by Groupe de la Cité and was owned by and reported through Larousse.
Groupe de la Cité acquired Harrap Limited in 1992 and merged it
with W & R Chambers to form the company that is now known as
Chambers Harrap Publishers Limited.
In 2000, Larousse and CHPL became part of Vivendi Universal Publishing
as a result of the merger of Groupe de la Cité and
In 2004, Hachette Livre (part of Lagardère) acquired Larousse
and, therefore, CHPL from Vivendi. In the same year Hachette also
acquired Hodder Headline to form what is now Hachette UK Limited.
In 2006, Hachette UK began to manage CHPL, on behalf of Larousse.
Hachette UK is owned by Hachette Livre a wholly owned subsidiary of
Lagardère, a leading company on the Paris stock exchange."
Hachette released this statement.
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER 2009
· Consultations with staff and the NUJ have
begun over the proposed closure of the Edinburgh office of Chambers
Harrap Publishers Ltd
· Proposals for the transfer of responsibility
for Harrap titles to Larousse in Paris are under discussion
· It is proposed that responsibility for
Chambers titles will move to London to be managed by Hodder Education.
Staff at Chambers Harrap have been informed today of the proposed
closure of their offices in Edinburgh. The staff were told that
alternative arrangements have been sought, including the sale of
Chambers, but that no buyer was forthcoming.
It is proposed that the two reference publishing businesses, Chambers,
which publishes a wide range of reference titles, including English
dictionaries, the Brewer’s list and crossword and subject
reference dictionaries, and Harrap, which publishes bilingual
dictionaries and language learning materials for UK and Europe, will be
Both imprints have been affected by the steep decline in the sales of
dictionaries and reference books as people move away from print to go
online where they can get their information, for the most part, free of
charge. Under the proposals, responsibility for Chambers, which has
been particularly hit by the fall in sales of English dictionaries,
would move to Hodder Education in London, and Harrap, whose sales are
almost all concentrated in continental Europe where the market is also
shrinking, would move to Paris to be managed directly by Larousse.
It is anticipated that all 27 jobs at the Edinburgh offices will be affected.
A spokesman for Hachette UK, which is managing the transition on behalf of Larousse 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.
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.
“The digital revolution is changing the way readers consume news
and search for information. People are moving away from printed
reference books and going online where, generally, they expect to get
their information for 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.”
On Friday 11th December 2009 the Edinburgh offices of Chambers closed.
In 2011 the 12th edition of the Chambers Dictionary was published. A
central section with red page edges contained a Wordlover's Miscellany
and a Wordgame Companion. The main complaint from crossword enthusiasts
was that the section of Some First Names had been omitted. A new
feature was that a number of unusual words, such as TAGHAIRM and
LOB-LIE-BY-THE-FIRE were highlighted with an asterisk and a grey
background. This edition was also published as an app for the iPhone and iPad.
August 2014 saw the publication of the 13the edition. To the delight of
crossword enthusiasts the list of First Names was reinstated. However,
all the grey highlighted words of the 12th edition had been omitted.