Shortlists unveiled for the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards

 

The Independent Publishers Guild is pleased to present the 14 shortlists for the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards. They are:

Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year

Bloomsbury Publishing, Boldwood Books, Faber

--

Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year

Nosy Crow, Oneworld, Sweet Cherry Publishing, Usborne Publishing

--

PLS Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year

BAR Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Class Publishing, Edinburgh University Press

--

Westchester Education Services UK Education Publisher of the Year

Bloomsbury Publishing, Brilliant Publications, Crown House Publishing

--

IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year

David & Charles, How2Become, SPCK, Vertebrate Publishing

--

Nick Robinson Newcomer Award

Confer & Karnac, Renard Press, Swift Press

--

Deanta International Award

Bloomsbury Publishing, David & Charles, Magic Cat Publishing, Wonderbly

--

The Bookseller Marketing Award

Bloomsbury Publishing, Unbound, Usborne Publishing

--

The Alison Morrison Diversity and Inclusivity Award

Bloomsbury Publishing, Emerald Publishing, Jacaranda Books, Joffe Books, Nosy Crow

--

HP Sustainability Award

Cambridge University Press & Assessment, Nosy Crow, Quarto

--

Zebralution Audio Award

Boldwood Books, Faber, Nosy Crow

--

Virtusales Metadata Award

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, Hardie Grant, Kogan Page, Nosy Crow, Phoenix Publishing House

--

The Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award

Will Dady, Renard Press; Aliya Gulamani, Unbound; Elizabeth Neep, SPCK; Frances Sleigh, Nosy Crow; Eleanor Teasdale, Watkins Media

--

GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award

Creative Access, Glassboxx, Suzanne Collier, Virtusales Publishing Solutions

--

The shortlists recognize the remarkable success of the independent publishing sector, and feature 54 nominations—the most in the 16-year history of the Awards. They celebrate 34 different companies and six individuals.

Publishers with multiple places on the shortlist include Bloomsbury Publishing, Boldwood Books, Cambridge University Press, David & Charles, Faber, Nosy Crow and Usborne Publishing. Around a quarter of the publishers and individuals appear on the Independent Publishing Awards shortlists for the first time. This year’s Awards also include two brand new categories for 2022: the Zebralution Audio Award and Virtusales Metadata Award.

One final Award, for the prestigious title of Fox Williams Independent Publisher of the Year, will be chosen from a shortlist made up of the winners of the five Publisher of the Year categories. That winner will follow Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Templar Publishing, Alastair Sawday Publishing, Earthscan, Continuum, Constable & Robinson, Bloomsbury Publishing’s Academic and Professional Division, Usborne Publishing, Search Press, Nosy Crow (twice), Edward Elgar Publishing, Maths – No Problem!, Faber and Emerald Publishing as the 16th champion independent publisher.

The winners of all the Awards will be revealed at a special gala lunch at the OXO Tower in London at 12pm on Wednesday 27 April. Tickets for the event are available now.

IPG chief executive Bridget Shine says: “2021 was a remarkably successful year for the UK’s independent publishing sector despite all the ongoing upheaval. The standard of submissions to the Independent Publishing Awards was higher than it has ever been, and it is no surprise that our judges selected a record number of publishers and people for the shortlists. Together they show the brilliant resilience, innovation and diversity of UK publishing. We can’t wait to celebrate their achievements at our Awards lunch.”

The IPG would like to thank the sponsors of the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards: Fox Williams, Clays, Deanta, GBS, HP, Paperback Shop, Publishers’ Licensing Services, The Bookseller, Virtusales Publishing Solutions, Westchester Education Services and Zebralution. It also pays tribute to the three individuals for whom Awards are named: Nick Robinson, Alison Morrison and Ola Gotkowska, who is honoured by The Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award, kindly supported from this year by Nosy Crow.

The IPG is grateful to all the judges of the Awards: Graham Bell, EDItEUR; Martin Casimir, consultant; Nick Clee, BookBrunch; Andie Constantinides, Amazon; Tim Davies, Westchester Publishing Services; Lewis Dawson, Bookspeed; Elise Dillsworth, Elise Dillsworth Agency; Mary Elliott, Fox Williams; Vicky Ellis, Clays; Oliver Gadsby, IPG patron; Jonny Gallant, Bookspeed; Marzia Ghiselli, Deepzen, Ashley Gordon, HP; Gareth Hardy, The Paperback Shop; Jonathan Harris, IPG President; Carla Herbertson, Small Audio; Chien-Wei Lui, Fox Williams; Natasha Onwuemezi, freelance writer; Steve Potter, World of Books; Miles Poynton, MWP Publishing; Darren Ryan, Deanta; Helene Stewart, ProQuest, part of Clarivate; Kate Stillborn, Blackwell’s; Caroline Summers, Paperback Shop; Phil Turner, Virtusales; George Walkley.

Judges’ comments about the 14 shortlists for the 2022 IPG Independent Publishing Awards follow.

Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year

Bloomsbury Publishing is the reigning champion in this category, and it had another fine year in 2021. Sixteen books hit the Sunday Times bestseller lists, and its authors won big awards including the Women’s and Nobel Prizes. Judges liked how it supported new authors as well as long established ones. “Bloomsbury’s keeping its publishing fresh rather than resting on its laurels… it’s good to see it doing so much for independent bookshops too.”

Boldwood Books won the Nick Robinson Newcomer Award in 2020, and is now established as a significant trade publisher. Judges admired its global ambitions, highly professional infrastructure, excellent support of authors and a format-neutral approach that gives equal weight to print and digital content. “Boldwood epitomises start-up independent publishing… it’s breaking boundaries all the time and the growth in just a few years is staggering.”

Faber is a four-time winner of this Award and had the best commercial year in more than nine decades of publishing. It published two of the biggest trade books of the year from Sally Rooney and Kazuo Ishiguro, and judges also admired other arms of the business like Faber Academy and Members and the Independent Alliance. “Faber has a long and illustrious history, so to get its largest turnover yet is phenomenal,” said the judges.

Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year

Nosy Crow has won this Award a remarkable six times. Like all these publishers it faced tough trading conditions in key markets, supply challenges and rising costs but overcame them by finding new channels. Judges also admired its marketing, innovation and commitment to sustainability and diversity. “Nosy Crow is such a tenacious and agile company… they rolled up their sleeves and delivered more amazing results,” they said.

Oneworld is shortlisted for its Rock the Boat imprint, which has made a big splash in Young Adult publishing and had its best year yet in 2021. Judges liked its bold publishing of diverse books from around the world and the excellent marketing and publicity of its small team, including via TikTok. “It’s focusing on its strengths and making successes of a very high percentage of their titles—it works really hard for every book,” they said.

Sweet Cherry Publishing is shortlisted here for the fourth time in a row. It had another excellent year in both domestic and global markets, especially in brand licensing. Judges also admired its wider work on diversity and reducing socio-economic barriers to reading for children. “Sweet Cherry is a fantastic success story that does a lot of good in the world,” they said. “They’re always looking for feedback and ways to get even better.”

Usborne Publishing regained its position last year as the UK’s leading specialist children’s publisher, as measured by Nielsen BookScan. It is shortlisted once again for phenomenal export and foreign language sales, as well as great work on staff care and diversifying children’s books. “To keep growing sales on the numbers they already have is amazing,” judges said. “It’s so impressive that such a well-established company never rests.”

PLS Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year

BAR Publishing (British Archaeological Reports Publishing) is shortlisted at the Independent Publishing Awards for the first time. It had a game-changing 2021 after digitising its entire database of several thousand archaeological resources, and doubling turnover as a result. “It’s a properly independent and well-run business that has mastered its niche,” said the judges. “Digitising the whole backlist can’t have been easy, but they did it brilliantly.”

Bloomsbury Publishing’s Academic and Professional division won this and the overall Independent Publisher of the Year Award back nine years ago, and it continued relentless growth in 2021. Its Digital Resources division is a powerhouse of content, and it also expanded through acquisitions including Red Globe Press. “It’s a class act all round and the digital performance is exceptional. It sets itself very ambitious targets and hits them,” judges said.

Cambridge University Press is shortlisted for the first time in five years. The year saw it support shifts to digital learning across education, make good progress on open access publishing and expand its strengths by integrating the Cambridge Assessment business. “For such a large organisation that has been around for so long, it’s a remarkably innovative business,” judges said. “It’s done a lot of very good work to help people study during the pandemic.”

Class Publishing is the reigning champion in this category. It had its best ever year in 2021, strengthening its place in its pre-hospital niche by buying an app developer while developing the print and legal sides of its publishing. “They’ve got a very good grasp of how to make digital publishing work and a clear view of where they want to get to… they’re embracing changing and meeting their users where they want to be.”

Edinburgh University Press is another independent publisher that appears on these shortlists for the first time. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work on its culture and processes as well as a big digitisation and expansion of its books and journals list. “EUP is a great academic business that’s evolved well, and it’s paying off,” said the judges. “Instead of following what others are doing it’s tried to do things differently while knowing its strengths.”

Westchester Education Services Education Publisher of the Year

Bloomsbury Publishing’s Education division won this Award in 2019 and 2020, and it grew its share of the education market again in 2021. The company and its books also secured 20+ prize nominations and a lot of praise from teachers. Judges liked its strong commissioning, production and online marketing. “It’s got a good understanding of its strengths but is always looking to embrace new areas of publishing and new sales channels.”

Brilliant Publications won this Award in 2021. It is shortlisted again after more great work supporting teachers, children and parents who were trying to adapt education amid the pressures of the pandemic. It showed an excellent understanding of users’ needs, and helped fill in the gaps in education that lockdowns opened up. “Brilliant has done all it could to make children’s lives and learning easier, and that’s very commendable,” said the judges.

Crown House Publishing bounced back well from a challenging 2020 in education publishing, with some notable frontlist sales. Excellent promotional work on social media and widespread reviews helped it overcame the lack of opportunities at conferences and other events. “There’s good growth in difficult times,” judges commented. “It commissions well and does a consistently good job on marketing and PR.”

IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year

David & Charles, the reigning champion here, had another excellent year in its niche of arts and crafts. Judges liked the evolution of the business since a management buyout in 2019, and in particular its modern marketing and new focus on wellbeing and other related areas of its specialism. “It’s an entrepreneurial and exciting business, and it’s pivoted online nicely in the last few years. In a pretty traditional area of publishing it innovates very well.”

How2Become excelled again in its specialism of career guides, growing its list and sales, especially direct to consumers. It also impressed the judges with phenomenal traffic for its website and social media channels, and a nimble move into TikTok to reach its young adult audiences. “The online numbers they get are staggering for a business of this size,” they said. “They really know how to reach their audience and sell to them effectively.”

SPCK is a three-time winner of this Award. In 2021 it grew both organically and by taking on the Lion Hudson list, cementing its position as the UK’s top Christian publisher. It won several awards and got one of its titles into the Sunday Times bestseller lists. “SPCK’s got a bullish acquisition strategy and good commercial judgement,” said the judges. “It’s sustaining growth and has managed some tough trading conditions in a very impressive way.”

Vertebrate Publishing had a stellar year in its field of outdoor adventure publishing. Direct sales soared, and its care of customers, authors and staff was excellent. “Vertebrate is energetic and innovative but with very robust planning and strategy behind it,” said the judges, who also liked its excellent production and marketing. “It’s building a successful and durable businesses with great processes… and it looks like they’re having fun doing it.”

Nick Robinson Newcomer Award

Confer & Karnac launched as an independent publisher in 2020, as an extension of Confer’s long-term work in professional development for mental health practitioners and therapists. Its acquisition of bookseller Karnac showed its ambition to build a reputation in its field, and the judges admired its sound planning for growth. “It’s established a very solid infrastructure and knows the audience it’s publishing for very well.”

Renard Press is just two years old but has already established a strong sense of identity by publishing under-represented voices. It has built a good classics collection as well as poetry and playscript lists. Judges liked its website, its online marketing during lockdown, and its striking design and production work, especially on covers. “Renard Press is boldly publishing into some tough markets, and you have to admire its ambition,” they said.

Swift Press is shortlisted for the second year in a row—and its second year in business—after making more impressive headway in trade publishing. Under two experienced leaders it has shrugged off Covid to comfortably beat sales forecasts. Judges liked its smart, diverse and ambitious commissioning and responsive marketing. “It’s already a very professional set-up with a top team… There are big ambitions and clear strategies for achieving them.”

Deanta International Achievement Award

The judges of this Award shortlisted four companies in recognition of an outstanding year of growth for independent publishers in international markets.

Bloomsbury Publishing had a very strong year in international markets, across exports, rights and coeditions alike. Judges liked the way it stayed close to fellow publishers through virtual presentations and videos, as well as a good response to the TikTok phenomenon. “Bloomsbury is an international powerhouse… its rights and exports team serve their partners brilliantly and are constantly looking for new opportunities,” judges said.

David & Charles, like all the publishers on this shortlist, overcame the many supply, production and travel challenges of Brexit and Covid to substantially grow global sales. North America and Australia were among the best performing territories, thanks to well-planned campaigns and effective local partnerships. “David & Charles achieved amazing growth in a tough year… it understands its markets and what customers want so well.”

Magic Cat Publishing won last year’s Nick Robinson Newcomer Award, but already has a substantial international presence in children’s publishing. Coedition sales rocketed, including via reprints, and it found deals in many new territories despitethe absence of travel and book fairs. “The international numbers are amazing for such a young business… to have such big global ambitions from the get-go is remarkable,” judges said.

Wonderbly has put international markets at the heart of its plans ever since launching into the personalised books market. It had another record year of sales, supplying to more than 150 different countries and launching more foreign-language lists and manufacturing centres. All its writing, translation and export work is steered from the UK. “Wonderbly is a truly global business and you sense there’s lots more growth ahead of it,” judges said.

The Bookseller Marketing Award

Bloomsbury Publishing is shortlisted for its ‘Bloomsbury Night In’ initiative. It promoted eight new fiction titles at a virtual event in early 2021, when bookshops and live events were closed off to publishers. Judges particularly liked the accessibility and promotion of the project. “This was a really imaginative response to the marketing problems of lockdown—a cut above the many online events of 2021 and a good way to showcase authors.”

Unbound is shortlisted for its campaign for Cain’s Jawbone by Edward Powys Mathers. An 80+ year-old literary puzzle, it was revived by Unbound and became a surprise Christmas bestseller after going viral on TikTok. Judges liked how Unbound rode the wave of interest, generating widespread media coverage and multiple reprints. “Some books seem to come out of nowhere, but Unbound’s team took full advantage of their opportunities,” judges said.

Usborne Publishing is shortlisted for its campaign for The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Its marketing team made Forna the second bestselling Young Adult of the author of the year by getting the book into all big retail channels and building a buzz among readers. Judges also liked its launch with the Black Girls Book Club. “Usborne’s campaign ticked all the boxes and has positioned Forna as a very big name for the future,” they said.

The Alison Morrison Diversity and Inclusivity Award

For the second year in a row, this shortlist features five publishers—recognition of the outstanding work on diversity and inclusivity in the independent sector at the moment.

Bloomsbury Publishing is shortlisted for work to diversify its lists across trade, children’s, academic and educational lists, plus in-house initiatives on mental health, allyship and more. Judges also liked its partnerships with organisations including Creative Access and the Black Writers Guild. “The breadth of work they’re doing on diversity is very impressive—it’s great to see a big business like this with a clear action plan and good progress against it.”

Emerald Publishing has always prioritised diversity in its HR practices and research output alike. In 2021 it reinforced its work with a new inter-disciplinary books editor role, and gathered extensive data and feedback on its recruitment and working practices. “Diversity and inclusivity are driven from the top down at Emerald—they take it very seriously and are implementing the right tools to make a difference,” judges said.

Jacaranda Books appears on these shortlists for the first time. It marks ten years at the vanguard of diversification in 2022, and published more under-represented voices in 2021. It also formed a partnership with Hachette UK to make its books more visible in the trade. “Jacaranda has seen a real problem in publishing and society and responded brilliantly to it… its marketing is helping Black writing to cut through to the mainstream.”

Joffe Books is another first-timer on the Awards shortlists. It sought many new ways to improve the diversity of its publishing programme in 2021, including by launching the Joffe Books Prize for Crime Writers of Colour. Judges liked the way it had found partners to educate and support its work, and way it had expanded the ethnic range of its freelance team. “Joffe has listened to feedback and worked on diversity in some very targeted ways.”

Nosy Crow stepped up its publishing of authors and illustrators of colour last year, including through an open submissions programme. It set out more plans to diversity it workforce and showed excellent support of its team in a disrupted year, especially on mental health. “Nosy Crow’s commitment to diversity has always been strong, and you can see the results—it’s following through on all its promises.”

HP Sustainability Award

Cambridge University Press & Assessment won the Award in each of its first two years. Judges liked its combination of big-picture work, like signing the UN Global Compact and thorough analysis of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and smaller in-house projects like a ‘Climate Café’ and allotments. “They’ve got every base covered. Sustainability goes right through the business, and you get the impression they’re properly committed to improving in every area.”

Nosy Crow is shortlisted for its work to cut the environmental impacts of its book production and travel, and for playing a leading role in cross-industry sustainability initiatives. Judges particularly liked how the company is urging partners in manufacturing, distribution and elsewhere to reach its same high standards. “This is really good strategic and tactical work on sustainability. It’s well informed and well thought through, and is at the core of their messaging.”

Quarto is nominated for its Ivy Kids imprint, which has set new sustainability standards in publishing. As well as cutting environmental impacts in production and many other processes, it has highlighted issues to consumers. “Ivy Kids has done something very special by putting sustainability right at the core of its purpose,” said the judges. “It’s ambitious and bold and should encourage others in publishing to step up to the plate as well.”

Zebralution Audio Award

Boldwood Books has made audio a key component of its format-neutral approach. It has published every one of its 200+ titles to date in digital and physical audio, and sold it well across digital retailers, streaming platforms, subscription services and libraries. Judges also admired its marketing initiatives including samplers, podcasts and book club partnerships. “Audio is tightly woven into everything Boldwood does,” judges said.

Faber is shortlisted for its work on Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney. Judges liked the professionalism of its production work, the extensive marketing campaign that gave the audio version equal billing to the print and ebook editions, and the excellent sales figures. “This was a really ambitious project that shows how exciting the audio format has become for publishers,” said the judges.

Nosy Crow is shortlisted for its Stories Aloud initiative, which bundles free digital audio with print books via a QR code on the inside cover. Judges liked the way it makes picture books even more accessible to children and parents, especially for English language learning and those with literacy difficulties or disabilities. “This is a brilliant example of how audio can enhance printed content… it’s also a great marketing tool that builds the Nosy Crow brand.”

Virtusales Metadata Award

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing uses metadata to underpin every aspect of its sales and marketing—not just for full titles but for all the content it repackages. It also makes good use of metadata outflows, like AI sheets and data insights. “Burleigh Dodds put metadata at the core of the business right from the start, and it’s seen the benefits of its investment ever since,” judges said. “You can see the impact on discoverability in all its channels.”

Hardie Grant showed its commitment to metadata by appointing a specialist manager in 2021, leading to substantial improvements and a direct correlation with sales, especially online. It filled in gaps in data across its big backlist, established high standards for new titles, and sought ways to automate more tasks. Judges particularly liked the way it has demystified aspects of metadata across the business. “This shows real dedication to get better and better.”

Kogan Page has been a leader in publishing metadata for some time now, but it redoubled efforts to make it a key operational focus in 2021. Good planning and procedures ensured it was scrupulously accurate and updated, and it made improvements on accessibility elements in particular. “Kogan Page sets very high standards on metadata, and it has a material impact on sales and improved relationships with retailers and supply chain partners.”

Nosy Crow recognised that with retail channels disrupted in early 2021, discoverability would be a big factor in sales. It responded with a thorough review of its processes, including via knowledge-building across the business, identifying areas for improvements and additions, and new checklists and schedules. Its work resulted in extra sales and a BIC Excellence Award. “This was timely work that perfectly illustrates the value of metadata,” judges said.

Phoenix Publishing House is shortlisted at the Awards for the first time. It is a classic example of how a team that was inexperienced in metadata has rolled up its sleeves and mastered it, including with the help of the IPG’s mentoring scheme, EDItEUR and a new publishing management system. “Phoenix is a new business that realised metadata should be a top priority… embedding it early bodes very well for its future,” judges said.

The Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award

Judges shortlisted five individuals for this Award, in recognition of the wealth of young talent in independent publishing.

Will Dady of Renard Press is shortlisted for his work building a distinctive new literary publisher on a shoestring in 2021. Judges like the way he raises money for charity through books, supports other young publishers, commits to high standards of sustainability and creates a platform for under-represented voices. “Starting up a new publishing business in the middle of a pandemic takes some doing… the passion for what he does is palpable.”

Aliya Gulamani of Unbound has made a huge impact on her publisher after just one year in the job. She has set up Unbound Firsts, a new imprint focused on finding marginalised writers and improving the diversity of Unbound’s output, while also launching several successful projects. “Aliya has grabbed her opportunity at Unbound and run with it... she’s dynamic, professional and a force for good in publishing,” judges said.

Elizabeth Neep of SPCK has been a publicist and commissioning editor before launching the new Form imprint. From a standing start she has achieved impressive sales, and proactively brought in two of SPCK’s biggest titles of 2021. She is also a successful published author with Bookouture. “Elizabeth saw a gap in the Christian market and filled it with a focused and distinctive list that’s all of her own making,” judges said.

Frances Sleigh of Nosy Crow was instrumental in more stellar growth for her publisher in 2021. As senior sales manager she is responsible for supermarket, online and special sales, from which a large proportion of Nosy Crow’s UK turnover is drawn. Judges admired her expert market knowledge and eye for promotional opportunities. “Frances is clearly a great partner for retailers… she’s also at the heart of Nosy Crow’s publishing strategies.”

Eleanor Teasdale of Watkins Media has made a significant difference to Watkins’ Angry Robot list since joining in 2019. Last year she led a rebrand, redesign and rethinking of commissioning that has led to a surge in sales. Judges also liked her support of authors and vision for the Angry Robot. “Eleanor obviously works exceptionally hard, but she’s also a very strategic thinker and knows exactly where to take her list,” they said.

GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award

Creative Access is shortlisted for its outstanding work helping independent publishers to become more diverse employers. It celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2022, and has organised well over 2,000 paid internships for people who otherwise might not get opportunities in the creative industries like publishing, while also providing training and mentoring. “Creative Access has been a game-changing partner for us,” said one publisher.

Glassboxx has helped many IPG members to grow their direct for consumer ebook and digital audiobook sales via its powerful delivery platform. Publishers value the intuition of the platform and extra benefits like marketing tools and data analytics, all backed up by excellent customer support. “Glassboxx has allowed us to expand our direct-to-reader offering simply and flexibly, and to keep a much greater share of payments,” said one member.

Suzanne Collier of Bookcareers is shortlisted for this Award for the fourth time, after another year of invaluable support for publishing people. Her careers guidance, coaching, redundancy support and job club services were gratefully received in another disrupted year for publishing. “She does so much behind the scenes—both paid and unpaid—to make independent publishing accessible and a better place to work,” said one person.

Virtusales Publishing Solutions supported many medium and large sized independent publishers in 2021, making the management of their publishing tasks and systems much easier. The year also saw it launch its new Biblio Suite of tools, and it is very highly rated as a technology partner. ”We couldn’t have thrived without a publishing system that helps us manage and improve our metadata in the way we can with Biblio,” said one publisher.