In September 2019, Wales’ largest publishing house, Llandysul-based Gomer Press, announced that it would be closing its publishing arm to focus on its printing. Two fellow Welsh presses, Y Lolfa and Atebol, have now bought the publishing arm of Gomer and between them are in charge of a backlist of more than 2,500 titles, dating back to 1946. Y Lolfa’s general editor Lefi Gruffudd talks to The Bookseller about the deal, and future plans for Gomer’s list.
Why did Y Lolfa decide to purchase the publishing arm of Gomer with Atebol? How did this arrangement come about?
This came to fruition following Gomer’s decision to stop publishing and concentrate on its printing business in 2019. As the biggest publisher in Wales at the time, this came as a shock to the industry, with many worried about the future of Gomer’s backlist. Discussions followed and a chance came about to keep its catalogue secure in the same county of Ceredigion, where Y Lolfa and Atebol are based. Both are actually based in the same village of Talybont, so co-operating to buy the backlist was one that worked out well for everyone.
Why was this move important for you as a company, and important for publishing in Wales generally?
I hope that it is good news for Welsh publishing, as Gomer has been the cornerstone of publishing in Wales since 1946. It published some of the best Welsh authors and poets in the second part of the 20th century, and also purchased other valued publishers over that period. So to secure that list between Y Lolfa and Atebol is good news for the wider industry. For us as a company, it is a chance to develop and to give new life to some great Welsh literature—hopefully it will be an important contribution to the Welsh language to get these out to a wider audience.
Which parts of the Gomer backlist will Y Lolfa be publishing, and what will Atebol be publishing?
Atebol is purchasing all books related to the famous Sali Mali series and other children’s and educational books, while Y Lolfa has purchased all the adult content and most of the original fiction for children.
How does the Gomer list complement Y Lolfa’s publishing?
It certainly complements our own publishing. We have been very strong on Welsh-language fiction, as Gomer has been, and we are also doing more sports books, which Gomer did very well. As printers, we’re also in a good place to get some of the old classics back into print.
What are your plans for the Gomer list going forward? Will you continue to work with Atebol on this?
We have now just agreed on the final list of books with Atebol, so we will now contact all Gomer authors as soon as possible, outlining our plans for the future.
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