At the risk of sounding like one of those humble-bragging Christmas cards, we thought we’d end the year with a roundup of everything the Press has achieved in 2022. Despite being challenging times for the publishing industry as a whole, we’ve had an exceptionally busy year and made great headway in achieving some of our core objectives—plus ticked off a few wish-list ones for good measure. We’ll also start this off with huge thank you to you—we really value your support, and the feedback we receive spurs us on.
One of our most exciting developments was the launch of Creatives back in March. This digital publication showcases creative works inspired by Scotland’s landscapes, and editor Alex Marceau describes it as a place for anyone who has found meaning in the outdoors to collaborate with others and realise their artistic vision. So far, we’ve received 70 submissions and published 23 pieces, from essays, poems and short stories to visual art across a range of media, and there’s much more in the pipeline. Through this and social media in general, our online community, ably nurtured by Kat Bennett, has grown significantly, and we’re thrilled that more and more of you want to connect with us and share what you’re up to.
Our SMC guidebook series has also had a facelift, with new designs for Scottish Winter Climbs West and Highland Scrambles North, which feature unique artwork from Christopher Smith-Duque and, like all our recent publications, are exquisitely designed by the masterly Gino Di Meo. As well as offering you the best information and advice to help you plan your next mountain adventure, we want to produce books that are beautiful to behold. Chris’s bold, hyperreal paintings evoke memories and inspire dreams of the finest lines on Scotland’s ridges, buttresses and north faces in a way that no photograph could, and we’re looking forward to revealing more of his stunning artwork as the series unfolds.
In other guidebook news, we’ve launched Scottish Rock Climbs, a Wired guide combining gorgeous imagery with high-resolution photographic topos and key information on approaches, descents, and anything else you need to know before you head to the outcrops and mountains crags of Scotland. As you read this, an updated edition of The Grahams & The Donalds is making it on to the shelves. This book joins the hillwalkers’ series to complement our bestseller, The Munros.
Since publishing A’ Chreag Dhearg and an updated edition of The Cairngorms Scene and Unseen last year, we’ve continued to expand our portfolio of non-guidebook publications with the release of a major new biography on the late, great Tom Patey, written by Mike Dixon. The book is shipping as you read this, helpfully just in time for Christmas. We’re delighted with the results of a year-long collaborative project that has involved everyone here at the Press in some way or another. It’s the definition of a team effort and we can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Do join us for a live event at the Fort William Mountain Festival in February, where the book’s Editor, Deziree Wilson, will be joined by Mike Dixon and Patey’s close friend, the renowned photographer John Cleare, for an intimate conversation about Patey’s character and achievements, and what it was like to spend almost a decade researching and writing about his life.
The ordinarily dreary months of November and early December were enlivened by the news that Hamish MacInnes’s memoir, The Fox of Glencoe, won the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature at the internationally recognised Banff Mountain Book Competition, which attracts entrants from all over the world each year. General Manager Rob Lovell and Editor Deziree were thrilled to attend this prestigious ceremony in Banff and collect the accolade on Hamish’s behalf. We were so grateful to receive support from the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and Publishing Scotland to enable Rob and Deziree to travel to the event and showcase our work on an international stage. It’s easy to find yourself working in isolation for long periods in publishing, so the opportunity to meet up with like-minded individuals in a stunning mountain environment was a real privilege, and we are developing a US and North American channel through which to sell our books.
After Banff, there was barely time to catch our breath before Rob and Deziree were off to another award ceremony, this time a little closer to home in Edinburgh. Both were shortlisted at the Saltire Awards in the Emerging Publisher of the Year category, and we’re delighted to announce that Rob was joint winner alongside Harley Griffiths from HarperCollins. In typically understated fashion, Rob was keen to point out that this award reflects the efforts of the company as a whole, but it nevertheless recognises the transformative impact he’s had on the company in a few short years.
The environment is something all of us here at the Press care deeply about, and we recognise that producing all these books means that our footprint is not insignificant. In keeping with our core aim of enhancing and helping protect Scotland’s wild places, and in conjunction with OurCarbon, we’ve looked at all our business operations and production activity up to to the end of the 2021-22 financial year and worked out how to both reduce our emissions and offset the remainder with a combination of Verra-accredited afforestation and biochar production (locking carbon from dead trees into the soil). We’re also working hard with our suppliers on this, and over time we’ll share more about our journey towards Net Zero.
It won’t surprise you to learn that we’ve managed to find some time to celebrate all this activity, and our annual winter meet was a not-entirely-sober affair at the Cairngorm Club-owned Muir Cottage in Braemar. Despite being a small, nascent publisher, our team has grown over the last couple of years to reflect our ambitions. We’re a diverse bunch, with a shared love of Scotland’s mountains, a commitment to the purpose of the Press and the Trust, and a belief that we can make the world a little bit better by showcasing and promoting our beautiful landscapes through thoughtful words and images. A buoyant team, including all our voluntary directors, was brimming with ideas for the direction we want to take as a company in the future. Like every other publisher, our ambitions are somewhat constrained by the current economic climate, but unlike other publishers we’re privileged to enjoy unwavering support from the wider outdoor community in Scotland, which remains remarkably close-knit, despite the diversity of mountain activities people now engage in. From climbers and walkers across every discipline to skiers, mountain bikers, runners, or those who just enjoy contemplation in wild places, we’re hoping to reach out to an ever wider network of outdoor enthusiasts in the coming months and years.
From all of us here at the Press, we hope you enjoy some great winter adventures over the festive season, and we wish you and yours all the very best for 2023.