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15 October 2019

Scottish Publisher of the Year Award

23 August 2013

Saraband has won the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Award

The award, given to the company with the most exciting and progressive developmental story to tell over the previous year, was announced by Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, on Friday 23 August at Publishing Scotland's packed reception at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Publishing Scotland's Chief Executive Marion Sinclair welcomed guests and introduced the Saltire Society's Executive Director Jim Tough who spoke about the reasons for setting up the award. Literary agent and judge Jenny Brown gave a brief introduction to the shortlisted publishers before Fiona Hyslop announced the commended and winning publishers.

 Publisher of the Year 2013 montage

Clockwise from top left: Fiona Hyslop presents the winner's award to Sara Hunt of Saraband; Marion Sinclair welcomes everyone to the Publishing Scotland EIBF reception and introduces the award; Fiona Hyslop presents Katy Lockwood-Holmes with the commendation awarded to Floris Books; and Jenny Brown, one of the judges, and Jim Tough, Executive Director of the Saltire Society, with the winner. Picture credits: Graham Clark and the Saltire Society.


Saraband, led by Sara Hunt, was said to have taken "huge steps" in changing the focus on its publishing list and formats in response to industry changes, and to have continued during 2012/2013 to move Scottish authors to the heart of its business. Saraband was selected to represent Scotland's creative industries at the Scotland House showcase during the Olympics.

A surprised and delighted Sara Hunt of Saraband accepted the award and emphasised that collaboration was one of the main keys to Saraband's success.

Floris Books meanwhile received a commendation. Floris, which features an extensive list of Scottish fiction for children, and in 2012 launched a new range of Kelpies Classics, "revitalising classic Scottish children's novels and authors for a new generation."

The Floris Team with their 2013 commendation

Above: Katy Lockwood-Holmes and the team at Floris Books. Picture credit: Graham Clark and the Saltire Society.


See more pictures on our Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year events page.


Also shortlisted were:

  • BackPage Press
  • Barrington Stoke
  • Edinburgh University Press
  • Freight Books.

Jim Tough, executive director of the Saltire Society, said the society had been "encouraged" by the number, range and quality of applications for the award. Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer said: "Saraband and the other shortlisted publishers represent a Scottish publishing industry in very good health."

The judges were:

  • Jenny Brown (literary agent),
  • Rosamund de la Hey (Main Street Trading Company),
  • Claire Malcolm (New Writing North) 
  • Marion Sinclair (Publishing Scotland's Chief Executive)
  • Professor Claire Squires (University of Stirling)
  • Aly Barr (Creative Scotland).

The award is supported by Creative Scotland and Publishing Scotland.


About the Award

The shortlist for the award, which was launched this year to celebrate excellence and innovation in Scottish publishing, sees small and large publishers in the running for the award and £4500 prize money.

This first shortlist exemplifies the dynamic and ground breaking work being done by Scottish publishers to engage new readers and take on new challenges, making sure Scottish publishing stand out both nationally and internationally.

The mixture of SMEs and larger more established enterprises show how Scottish publishers are making bold and imaginative work in a changing world of publishing, irrespective of their size, age or the pressure to continue on with established working methods.

The inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Award is dedicated to Dr Gavin Wallace in recognition of his enormous contribution and commitment to Scottish Literature.


The shortlist

The full 2013 Scottish Publisher of the Year Award shortlist with comments on their submission from the expert panel of judges is as follows:


BackPage Press

The panel recognised in BackPage a company that had made strong progress working in a focused way to reach an elusive reading market of sports fans without compromising the quality of the content and the production values. They noted a year of strong commercial growth and the sense of a company willing to listen, learn and innovate.


Barrington Stoke

After fifteen strong years Barrington Stoke is a company responding positively to new circumstances and finding new ways to be original. The panel recognised the clarity of their mission and commitment to it, growing in the context of a flat market, and all the time remaining true to their commitment to make quality authors available to dyslexic and less experienced leaders.


Edinburgh University Press

The clear commitment to investing in their own change for a long standing and important publisher in Scotland impressed the panel. Their changes have been bold and strategically astute as they entered new markets, maintaining an impressive level of growth in digital and book sales as well as producing books of real quality such as the Saltire Award winning 'The Military History of Scotland'.


Floris Books

Among many impressive attributes the panel noted the way that-arguably-the company had revolutionised Scottish picture books producing work of exceptional quality in the process of re-inventing themselves. They have a strong and visible presence in the literature and educational sectors and an impressive record of supporting writers and illustrators.


Freight Books

At a time when support for literary fiction is a real challenge, Freight has been brave and bold in their commitment. Their presence on this shortlist notes their support and nurturing of writers and their open and innovative approach to all of their work after only a short time in publishing.



This is a company that has shown shrewd and strategic business thinking in a shifting context. They are collaborative, innovative and are distinguished by fresh thinking in their use of digital technology. Their move to new approaches still has the interest of authors at its heart. Typically of many SMEs in the industry, they punch impressively above their weight.