William Collins has been publishing Bibles and other Christian material for nearly two hundred years – we’re now the biggest Bible publisher in the UK. Our Collins Bibles Catalogue (2016-2017) is now available to download!
Click here to download our new International Highlights Catalogue
William Collins was born in 1789 just outside Glasgow. Growing up in a poor family, he taught himself to read by studying the King James Bible by candlelight. He used this skill to teach reading and writing to his fellow millworkers, and by 1819 he had saved enough money to start his own publishing company to print Christian pamphlets, prayer books and hymnbooks.
The King James Bible
In the 1840s, the Scottish Bible Board granted William the licence to print the King James Bible in Scotland. The first product was a huge success, winning the Highest Award of Merit at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Collins continues to hold the Scottish Bible Board licence to this day, and through this has been able to print and distribute the Bible around the world. In its time, Collins has sold tens of millions of copies of the KJV, and continues to sell around fifty thousand copies a year.
In the 1870s Collins introduced a range of new technology, though at that time Bible production remained a very labourintensive activity. Husbands and wives would both work in Collins’ works in Glasgow (pictured), though division of labour saw the women sewing the pages together, and the men applying the leather bindings.
In 1914, Williams Collins IV opened a London office, and orders poured in for Bibles for troops on the Western Front. However, the Second World War saw Collins’ London warehouse bombed, and a large shipment of Bibles was also torpedoed.
About this time, Collins started publishing fiction, and signed up authors such as Agatha Christie (with the Collins Crime Club), J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells and C.S. Lewis.
William Collins (now an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) publishes a wide range of award-winning, bestselling fiction and non-fiction. We were the first major publisher to digitise our whole publishing catalogue, and innovation is in our blood. This thinking is also reflected in our Bible publishing programme, with our range of ebooks and apps.