In the past decade, Scotland’s independent publishing scene has flourished. Using the deeply scientific metric of ‘how many of their books do I have?’ I’ve picked my top five, but if any others would like to prove their worth by sending me free books, I’d like to go on the record as being completely OK with that.
Adding Canongate to a list of your favourite publishers feels like cheating. Named 2014’s Independent Publisher of the Year by The Bookseller, their roster includes Margaret Drabble, Matt Haig and relative newcomer/one to watch, Emma Jane Unsworth. They’re also one of the most enthusiastic adopters of digital technology and you can lose hours on their website. From podcasts to a mesmerising selection of videos including interviews, performances and animation, it is a dazzling showcase for their authors’ work and sets the standard for what literary websites can be.
Even if it wasn’t for their stellar reputation, this new Scottish imprint would make the list purely on the basis of Annaliese Mackintosh’s upcoming memoir/short story hybrid Any Other Mouth. They also produce Gutter, one of the best independent literary magazines in recent years, and their forthcoming anthology of LGBT writing Out There featuring authors like Ali Smith, Damian Barr and Kerry Hudson is out in September.
Cargo doesn’t have an office. That’s how cool they are. It’s even cooler than what I thought was their office but actually turned out to be a bar in Fountainbridge. Even better, their line up of authors is a quick who’s who of modern Scottish literature – Ewan Morrison, Alan Bissett, Allan Wilson and winner of the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Award Tracey S. Rosenberg, whose startling novel The Girl in the Bunker thoroughly deserved its place on the Scottish Bestseller Chart. Along with their eponymous main imprint, they also have Scotland’s first digital-only imprint, Cargo Crate, their terrific humour imprint Think Dark Books, and they’re the masterminds behind the Dundee International Book Prize, the biggest cash prize in the UK for an unpublished author.
Named after Robert Burns’ dog, Luath Press now resides near his first lodging house at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, giving them what might be the best view of any publishing house, ever. Established in 1981 to produce the excellent Luath Guides to Scotland, they have since expanded into fiction, Young Adult, poetry, folklore and a small but truly excellent selection of crime novels.
5. Black & White Publishing
Publishing books with a uniquely Scottish flavour, their catalogue includes some terrific YA titles including Daniela Sacredoti’s Sarah Midnight trilogy, and the array of content on their website rivals Canongate. Although they publish a wide variety of genres, it’s the Scots translations of children’s books that will melt your heart – if you’ve never read The Gruffalo’s Wean then, quite frankly, you haven’t lived.