Small Press of the Year

Winner - Jacaranda Books

Jacaranda Books

From a shortlist packed with dynamic, nimble and ambitious small presses, Jacaranda stood out for its stellar growth and industry-leading efforts to improve diversity in UK publishing.

Under founder Valerie Brandes and a small team, Jacaranda has been publishing for eight years, and its work reached a new peak in 2019. As well as continuing its mission of breaking new BAME voices in fiction, it pushed deeper into non-fiction with its A Quick Ting On series to celebrate black Britishness (led by Bookseller Rising Star Magdalene Abraha), and started up a new YA list. Early on in the year it made a big statement to the trade and media by teeing up a #TwentyIn2020 initiative that will see it publish 20 black British writers this year—a move that has won support from major partners including Foyles, Audible, the London Library and the Words Weekend Festival.

Publishing wasn’t just culturally valuable, but commercially successful too. Retail sales doubled, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce operation launched, and rights turnover grew exponentially. There was critical acclaim for authors including Bernice McFadden, Shola von Reinhold and Frances Mensah Williams.

Jacaranda adds this prize to the London Book Fair’s 2019 International Excellence Award for Inclusivity. “Jacaranda has held the torch for diversity in publishing for a long time—and long before major publishers finally got on the train,” said the judges. “It’s built a great list and has a clear, vitally important mission… the whole population should be inspired to read its books.” Like many small presses, Jacaranda has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But its #InclusiveIndies crowdfunder, run with fellow indie Knights Of, has reminded the trade of its hugely important work.

Our Regional and Country Winners

  • Comma Press
    North England
    Comma Press picked up several prizes and shortlistings in 2019—including at the FutureBook Awards for its popular Podcast—and gave voice to many neglected overseas and regional British writers. Trade sales were its best ever.
  • Firefly Press
    Firefly Press' focused frontlist of a book a month had a high hit rate, with top sellers including Catherine Fisher’s The Clockwork Crow, and it built momentum in backlist and rights sales.
  • Jacaranda Books
    London - Joint Winner
    Jacaranda Books has been championing diversity in publishing long before it became a mainstream concern, and got a lot of attention for its #TwentyIn2020 initiative for black British authors. It pushed out into non-fiction and Young Adult books too.
  • Otter-Barry Books
    . Sales of its inclusive picture, information and poetry books jumped by a quarter, and highlights included 'Migrations', featuring contributions from 50 illustrators around the world, plus the launch of a young reader series.
  • Really Decent Books
    South-West England
    Really Decent Books has built a list of around 250 titles since launching eight years ago, and secured some major new trade accounts and partnerships in 2019. Half of its turnover now comes from overseas.
  • Sandstone Press
    It scooped the Man International Booker Prize for Jokha Alharthi‘s 'Celestial Bodies', and capitalised superbly on the print, distribution, publicity and rights opportunities that followed.
  • September Publishing
    East/South-East England
    September Publishing has established a distinctive publishing brand and voice in just four years in business, and added children’s books and international distribution to its fiction and short stories list in 2019.
  • The Lilliput Press
    It is a modest name for a company that has made a big impact on Ireland’s culture over 35 years. It added a book a month to its backlist of more than 500 titles, including its first Eason’s bestseller from Seamus Mallon and several bold debuts.
  • Tiny Owl
    London - Joint Winner
    Tiny Owl is another passionate supporter of under-represented BAME voices. It tripled turnover and generated record rights sales in 2019, also extending its publishing programme and sharpening up its design and marketing work.

Highly Commended

  • Butterfly Books
    The Midlands
    Highly Commended
  • Penned in the Margins
    Highly Commended

Regional Shortlist: East/South-EastEngland

Regional Shortlist: Ireland

Regional Shortlist: London

Regional Shortlist: Midlands

Regional Shortlist: North England

Regional Shortlist: Scotland

Regional Shortlist: South-West England

Regional Shortlist: Wales