The nine winners of the regional and country round of the British Book Awards Small Press of the Year accolade have been revealed.
Presented for the second time in 2020, and sponsored by CPI Books, the award celebrates the diversity of small presses in the UK, from the Scottish Highlands to Bath in England. Winners include Comma Press, Firefly Press, September Publishing, and in London joint-winners Jacaranda and Tiny Owl. The strength of entries is recognised with two highly commended awards for Butterfly Books from the Midlands category and Penned in the Margins from the London category.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair of the judges for the British Book Awards, said: “The nine regional and country winners showcase the best of small press publishing, rich in quality, diverse in output, and broad in reach. The best of these publishers are close to their customers, but know how to break out beyond their core audiences with their smart, agile approaches to the business. Our congratulations to them all, with good luck for the next round.”
The regional and country winners will now be in contention for the overall Small Press of the Year, to be announced at the British Book Awards, a.k.a. The Nibbles, on 29th June 2020. The winning companies, including joint-winners for London, are:
Comma Press (logo above), the North England regional winner, picked up several prizes and shortlistings in 2019—including at the FutureBook Awards for its podcast—and gave voice to many neglected overseas and regional British writers. Trade sales were its best ever.
Firefly Press is the Wales winner and one of four children’s specialists here. Its 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, the London co-winner, was championing diversity in publishing long before it became a mainstream concern, and attracted a lot of attention for its TwentyIn2020 initiative for black British authors. It pushed out into non-fiction and YA books too.
The Lilliput Press, Ireland’s winner, is modest about its significant 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 many bold débuts.
At Otter-Barry Books, the Midlands category winner, sales of inclusive picture, information and poetry books jumped by 25%. Highlights included Migrations, featuring the work of 50 illustrators around the world, and the launch of a young reader series.
Really Decent Books, the South-west England winner, 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, the Scotland winner, also won Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year last year. The company won the International Booker Prize for Jokha Alharthi‘s Celestial Bodies, and capitalised superbly on the opportunities that followed.
September Publishing, the East and South-east England winner, has established a distinctive 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.
Tiny Owl, a London co-winner, and another passionate supporter of under-represented BAME voices, tripled turnover and generated record rights sales in 2019, also extending its publishing programme and sharpening up its design and marketing work.
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