Leading the rollcall of winners is adult fiction publisher Boldwood Books. Just three years on from its creation, it becomes the 16th recipient of the flagship Fox Williams Independent Publisher of the Year Award.
Boldwood Books was one of five Publishers of the Year on the shortlist for the Award, having won the title of Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year. It was joined there by Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year Sweet Cherry Publishing; PLS Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year BAR Publishing; Westchester Education Services UK Education Publisher of the Year Bloomsbury Publishing; and IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year Vertebrate Publishing.
For Bloomsbury, the Award was one of a hat-trick of wins, alongside The Alison Morrison Diversity and Inclusivity Award and The Bookseller Marketing Award, which was jointly presented to Usborne Publishing.
Two brand new categories were presented for the first time in 2022: the Zebralution Audio Award, which was won by Nosy Crow; and the Virtusales Metadata Award, won by Kogan Page. The Nick Robinson Newcomer Award went to Swift Press, while last year’s winner of that category, Magic Cat Publishing, took this year’s Deanta International Award.
Quarto received the HP Sustainability Award for its new Ivy Kids imprint, and digital delivery platform Glassboxx the GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award. The list is completed by Aliya Gulamani of Unbound, who received the Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award.
The winners were chosen by expert judges from a record field of 54 nominees, made up of 34 different companies and six individuals. They received their Awards at a special lunch at the OXO Tower Brasserie in London on Wednesday (27 April).
IPG chief executive Bridget Shine says: “This year’s Independent Publishing Awards were our biggest yet, and the standard of entries was phenomenally high. It has been a challenging two years for everyone in publishing, but you wouldn’t know it from these Awards, which display the incredible resilience, innovation and diversity of IPG members. Independent publishing is flourishing, and it is an enormous pleasure to celebrate the success of all the brilliant businesses and people shortlisted at the Awards.”
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.
The IPG is also grateful to 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, 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 each of the winners of the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards follow.
Fox Williams Independent Publisher of the Year
Boldwood Books wins the title of Fox Williams Independent Publisher of the Year just three years after launching. The judges of the Award applauded its remarkably rapid success and very modern publishing model. “Boldwood’s growth and impact are extraordinary, across all formats and internationally as well as in the UK,” they said. “It’s superbly run and future-proofed, and is clearly going to be a very significant publisher indeed.”
Also shortlisted for Fox Williams Publisher of the Year were BAR Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing, Sweet Cherry Publishing and Vertebrate Publishing.
Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year
Boldwood Books also won the title of Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year. The judges of this category admired its global ambitions, highly professional infrastructure, excellent support of authors and a format-neutral approach that gives equal weight to print, digital and audio content. “Boldwood epitomises start-up independent publishing… it’s breaking boundaries all the time and the growth in just a few years is staggering.”
Also shortlisted for Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year were Bloomsbury Publishing and Faber.
Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year
Sweet Cherry Publishing wins the Award having been shortlisted for five times in a row. It had another excellent year in both domestic and global children’s 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.”
Also shortlisted for Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year were Nosy Crow, Oneworld and Usborne Publishing.
PLS Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year
BAR Publishing (British Archaeological Reports Publishing) wins this Award after being shortlisted 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.”
Also shortlisted for PLS Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year were Bloomsbury Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Class Publishing and Edinburgh University Press.
Westchester Education Services UK Education Publisher of the Year
Bloomsbury Publishing’s Education division wins this Award for the third time in four years, having grown 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 what it’s good at, but is always looking to embrace new areas of publishing and sales channels.”
Also shortlisted for Westchester Education Services UK Education Publisher of the Year were Brilliant Publications and Crown House Publishing.
IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year
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.”
Also shortlisted for IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year were David & Charles, How2Become and SPCK.
Nick Robinson Newcomer Award
Swift Press wins this Award after just its second year in business, having made 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.”
Also shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Newcomer Award were Confer & Karnac and Renard Press.
Deanta International Award
Magic Cat Publishing adds this Award to the 2021 Nick Robinson Newcomer Award, having already become a major international presence in children’s publishing. Coedition sales rocketed, including via reprints, and it found deals in many new territories despite the 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.
Also shortlisted for the Deanta International Award were Bloomsbury Publishing, David & Charles and Wonderbly.
The Bookseller Marketing Award
Bloomsbury Publishing and Usborne Publishing are joint winners of this Award.
Bloomsbury Publishing is recognised 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.”
Usborne Publishing is recognised for its campaign for The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Its marketing team made Forna the second bestselling Young Adult 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.
Also shortlisted for the Bookseller Marketing Award was Unbound.
The Alison Morrison Diversity and Inclusivity Award
Bloomsbury Publishing is recognised for efforts to diversify its lists across trade, children’s, academic and educational lists, plus in-house initiatives on allyship, mental health 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.”
Also shortlisted for The Alison Morrison Diversity and Inclusivity Award were Emerald Publishing, Jacaranda Books, Joffe Books and Nosy Crow.
HP Sustainability Award
Quarto wins this Award 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.”
Also shortlisted for the HP Sustainability Award were Cambridge University Press & Assessment and Nosy Crow.
Zebralution Audio Award
Nosy Crow wins this category 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.”
Also shortlisted for the Zebralution Audio Award were Boldwood Books and Faber.
Virtusales Metadata Award
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.”
Highly commended for the Virtusales Metadata Award was Phoenix Publishing House. Also shortlisted were Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, Hardie Grant and Nosy Crow.
The Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award
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.
Also shortlisted for The Ola Gotkowska Young Independent Publisher Award were Will Dady, Renard Press; Elizabeth Neep, SPCK; Frances Sleigh, Nosy Crow; and Eleanor Teasdale, Watkins Media.
GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award
Glassboxx has helped many IPG members to grow their direct to 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.
Also shortlisted for the GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award were Creative Access, Suzanne Collier and Virtusales Publishing Solutions.