Wesley himself was in sole charge of Methodist publishing until in 1753 the first 'Book Stewards' , Thomas Butts and William Briggs, were appointed to set him free for his evangelism and pastoral oversight. The Book Steward became managing director of the Publishing House and from 1880 his name appeared on books as publisher. He had to be a minister in full connexion, which meant that he was elected by and had the full support of Conference. He had a professional publisher as his lay deputy. He also had charge of Methodist archives until an archivist was appointed to serve at City Road.
Similar arrangements were made in other branches of Methodism before the Union of 1932, but the MNC abolished the office in 1893, sharing editorship among several ministers and in PM the office was limited to a five-year period. In all connexions, Book Stewards were responsible to a Book Committee, meeting quarterly. The last ministerial Book Steward was Dr. Frank Cumbers. The office was abolished after publishing was re-ordered in 1969, the Steward being replaced by a Chief Executive.