As part of #ScotLitFest, we’re hoping to shine a spotlight on not just the authors, but the publishers in Scotland with a five point guide. Today, we’ll be looking at Birlinn.
The who, where, what and why.
Birlinn Limited was established in 1992 by Managing Director Hugh Andrew as an independent publisher based in Edinburgh. They are comprised of a number of imprints including Polygon, John Donald, BC Books, Arena Sport and Birlinn eBooks. They publish a wide range including Fiction, Biography, Poetry, Politics, History, Sports, Music, Gaelic and much more.
You may know them for publishing…
Birlinn have published a number of great Scottish writers including James Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Agnes Owen, Alexander McCall Smith, Rosemary Goring, James Robertson, Kevin MacNeil and Jenni Fagan. You’ll probably recognise a number of their titles including Debi Gliori’s Tobermory Cat, Malachy Tallack’s 60 Degrees North, Roger Hutchinson’s Calum’s Road, Denzil Meyrick’s DCI Daley thrillers and Alexander McCall Smith’s much-loved 44 Scotland Street series as well as his stand-alone titles such as his latest, My Italian Bulldozer.
What’s unique to them?
Birlinn is Scotland’s largest publisher of Scottish interest books, bringing us stories from Annan to Burrafirth and everywhere in between, creating a truly national cultural conversation. And yet with a publishing programme that crosses five imprints, it also has a huge UK-wide and international reach, publishing both new and established (and influential) writers. They were early adopters within the digital landscape, now carrying a huge digital backlist, developing apps and creating other multi-media goodies. They continue to innovate in 2016 with an exciting cross-platform project with historical crime writer Shirley McKay, 1588 – A Calendar of Crime.
Claim to fame.
Birlinn started in 1992 reprinting the classic Para Handy stories, which are still in print. Since then, they have acquired Polygon in 2001 and Mercat Press in 2007 and have established their own additional imprints in the last five years. More recently, Michael F. Russell’s Lie of the Land and Malachy Tallack’s 60 Degrees North were shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year 2015, Alexander McCall Smith’s Fatty O’ Leary’s Dinner Party won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and Jan-Philipp Sendker’s Whispering Shadows was selected as one of the 2016 World Book Night titles.
Birlinn have just acquired Nicolson Maps, cementing their position as the largest independent publisher in Scotland. Their autumn list highlights include Dragon Games, a brand new novel from the internationally bestselling author Jan-Philipp Sendker, The Un-Discovered Islands, a stunning collaboration between Malachy Tallack and much-in-demand illustrator Katie Scott, the first in a musical trilogy from broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, Detroit 67 and they continue their beautiful mapping series with Scotland: Mapping the Islands and Oxford: Mapping the City.