Bath-based travel publisher Wild Things Publishing has won the inaugural British Book Awards Small Press of the Year, announced at the London Book Fair, and sponsored by the CPI Group.
Wild Things Publishing was one of nine publishers that won a regional and country prize at the fair, before it went on to pick up the overall crown. It will now go on to compete for the Independent Publisher of the Year accolade at the British Book Awards, to be held on 13th May at the Grosvenor House Hotel.
Founded in 2011 Wild Things Publishing has published 27 titles that encourage travellers to get off the beaten track, including Wild Swimming, Hidden Beaches and The Scottish Bothy Bible; its sales growth has been exponential, from £33k in its first year to just below the £1m threshold for this award in 2018, and within the Nielsen TCM it is among the fastest growing dedicated travel publishers.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair of the judges for the British Book Awards, said: "In terms of look and feel you couldn't distinguish a Wild Things book from one published by a larger competitor, yet the ambition to first exploit a gap in the market, and then to widen it, is there for all to see. It is exactly why this Small Press award is so important: these are publishers small in size, but mighty in impact. Wild Things Publishing was the stand-out winner in 2019 and I look forwarded to seeing how it fares against the larger independent publishers at the Nibbies."
Forty-one small presses were shortlisted across the English regions, and Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, including publishers such as Bluemoose Books, Comma Press, September Publishing, Little Island Books, and Parthian Books.
The winner in the East of England was the 36-year-old publisher of literary fiction and non-fiction Dedalus, beating off strong competition from Galley Beggar Press. In the North, there was a high commendation for the Manchester-based Comma Press, but the winner was poetry press Carcanet Press, founded in 1962, and run since 1967 by Michael Schmidt, also based in Manchester.
In the Midlands two high commendations were made, both to children's publishers, Otter-Barry Books and Sweet Cherry Publishing; but the winner was Practical Action Publishing, a Rugby-based press that publishes books for practitioners and researchers aimed at providing practical ways to help communities free themselves from poverty and disadvantage.
In the South-East of England children's publisher b small publishing won ahead of strong rivals September Publishing, Fine Feather Press, Globe Law and Business and SMH Books. In London, The School of Life emerged as the winner from a nine-strong shortlist that included Cassava Republic, Daunt Books Publishing, and Jacaranda Books.
Finally, in England, overall winner Wild Things Publishing won in the South-West against strong rivals including Little Toller Books and Burning Eye Books.
In Ireland, the winner was children's publisher Little Island Books, scooping the award ahead of The Lilliput Press and Wordwell. In Scotland, the Latin American literature specialist Charco Press took the crown, with a highly-commended given by the judges to BHP Comics. In Wales, winning publisher Parthian Books based in Cardigan beat the six-year-old children's press Firefly Press.
Jones added: "For a first year, the award has showcased the range of brilliant publishing across the regions of England, and countries of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. At a time when publishing is so-corporate heavy, and so-centralised in London, it's vital that we recognise and support the diversity of publishers as well-established as Carcanet, and as new as b small publishing. All are winners."