This year sees the relaunch of the famous Shire Library, the multi-million-copy bestselling non-fiction series that launched in 1962.
One hundred books with a new design will launch this year—a mixture of classics and brand new titles, including A History of Museums in Britain, London Sewers and British Sports Cars of the 1950s and 60s.
In its four decades, Shire has published more than 750 titles, on topics ranging from British sheep breeds to 1950s childhood to medieval wall paintings. Since John Rotheroe founded the publisher with Discovering East Suffolk, its books have specialised in niche areas of heritage, collectibles, architecture, social history and design.
Two of its titles—Timber-framed Buildings and Hallmarks on English Silver—have sold more than 200,000 copies each. Shire publisher Nick Wright said the “time was right” to relaunch the series, which was last revamped back in 2007. “There is a need to stay ahead of the curve . . . we had a feeling the old covers weren’t working hard enough, so we needed to make them bolder.”
Of the 100 new-look titles publishing this year, around 30 are new, and include three titles on the First World War: The British Airman of the First World War, Medical Services in the First World War and Animals in the First World War (March, pb, £6.99). Other titles, publishing in May and June, include Icehouses, Witches and Witchcraft, Stagecoach Travel in Britain and Smugglers and Smuggling.
Some of Shire’s bestselling titles that have been treated with a new cover design are Garden Gnomes, Chocolate, Tea and Tea-drinking, Allotments, 1960s Home, VW Camper and Making Craft Cider. Publication of all 100 titles will be spread over the year.
Wright said that Shire’s social history titles prove the most popular, with a focus on the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s in particular.