Independent Publisher of the Year


While some independents have suffered during the pandemic, others have not just survived but thrived. Covid gave them the chance to show all their agility and speed of thought, and they pivoted superbly towards remote working, digital working and direct selling. These eight—including four that make the shortlist for the first time—all punched way above their weight. 

The Shortlist

  • Atlantic Books
    Shortlisted here for the third year in a row, Atlantic continued its renaissance as a general indie that combines commercial and critical success. John Kampfner and Chris Atkins gave it Sunday Times spots, and its backlist had a hatful of steady sellers.
  • Canelo
    Digital-led Canelo sold well over three million units in just its fifth full year—a third of them paperbacks. It stepped up its reissues of neglected fiction and launched a new Canelo Crime imprint, all powered by smart price promotion and high royalty rates that motivate authors.
  • Canongate
    Canongate grew sales by £2m despite pushing nearly a third of its new titles into 2021. Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library sold more than 310,00 copies, Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King added 70,000, and it impressed with a nimble switch to digital marketing and events.
  • David & Charles
    The arts and crafts specialist has been reborn since a management buyout in 2019, and sales, profits and output all rose sharply. Online courses have added a new revenue stream, and work on digital discovery and promotion was exceptional.
  • Faber & Faber
    The 2018 and 2019 winner had another record year in profit terms, with a richly diverse frontlist and growth across its massive backlist. It rebranded, picked up 20 awards and was an ally of bookshops and fellow publishers via the Independent Alliance when they needed it most.
  • Harriman House
    This finance and business specialist had its best year in nearly three decades in publishing, thanks to Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money, which has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide. US sales quadrupled, and direct-to-consumer digital revenue surged during lockdowns.
  • Joffe Books
    Sales topped £5m at Joffe Books, and its titles racked up nearly one billion page views on Kindle Unlimited. It turned out 200 books and marketed them hard across social media. “I’d never want to be published by anyone else,” said one author.
  • Unbound
    Unbound turns ten in 2021 on the back of a record-breaking year—the result of a restructuring and a decision to publish fewer books better. Andy Hamilton and Frankie Boyle were among the stars, and its groundbreaking crowdfunding model was more popular than ever.