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Midland's contenders for the British Book Awards

Leicester publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing amongst them.

The grassroots publishing scene in the UK and Ireland continues to flourish despite the impact of Brexit, the pandemic and supply chain issues.

The British Book Awards Small Press of the Year, sponsored by CPI Group, celebrates the innovative and nimble publishers making names for themselves outside the mainstream.

The regional and country winners of the Small Press of the Year award will be announced on Thursday, March 17.

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair of the judges for the British Book Awards, says: “Overall, 2021 has proved to be gnarly year for the UK and Ireland’s Small Presses; following an adrenaline fuelled 2020."

In total, there are 50 small presses listed across eight different regions and countries, including 14 in London, nine in the North of England, seven in Scotland, three in the Island of Ireland and three in Wales.

"Many publishers faced issues around Brexit, a fickle supply chain, and the ongoing disruption to high street bookshops due to the pandemic.

"Culminating in a choppy but ultimately champion year for many with a number of important books breaking through.

"This was Small Press publishing at its best, smart and nimble, with amazing attention to detail, and always with an emphasis on the reader at the heart of it all.”

Leicester publishing house Sweet Cherry Publishing is amongst the list of nominees.

The Midland's contenders

Eye Books Henson Editorial Services and North Staffordshire Press Otter-Barry Books Owlet Press Sweet Cherry Publishing

The overall Small Press winner will also compete to be crowned Independent Publisher of the Year.

London remains a hot-bed of new publishing with a mammoth 14-strong finalists, including previous joint winners Boldwood Books and Magic Cat, and newbie Mensch Publishing set up by industry veteran Richard Charkin.

There is also excellent publishing happening in the North, including England and Scotland, with nine and seven finalists from their respective regions. There are some terrific new-comers.

Poetry presses have also risen to the fore this year, with strong representation among the finalists, including from Arachne Press, Out-Spoken Press and Fly on the Wall Press.

A number of the small presses also published some of the break-out books of 2021. The list includes Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, Panenka by Rónán Hession (Bluemoose), The Power Of Geography: Ten Maps that Reveal the Future of Our World by Tim Marshall (Elliott & Thompson), and Crater Lake Evolution by Jennifer Killick (Firefly).

Sponsored by CPI Group, CPI Books’ m.d. Tanya Dunbar comments: "This year we saw the largest number of entries to date.

"Reflecting the strength of the small presses in the UK, supported by the significant growth in physical book sales that has been seen over the last two years.

"Congratulations to all the regional and country finalist publishers.”

The presses will compete to win their region first, before vying for the overall prize, which will be announced at The British Book Awards winner ceremony on Monday, May 23.


Words by Emily Miller

Emily is a Senior Journalist for Niche Magazine with over a decade of journalism experience. She enjoys going to gigs, visiting galleries and walking in all weathers.


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