Scottish Mountaineering Press at Nibbies

Back in March the Scottish Mountaineering Press was announced as country winner for Scotland in the Small Press of the Year category of the 2023 British Book Awards. This achievement took Deziree and me to London for the finals at Grosvenor House near Marble Arch on 15 May.

Having never been to anything like this before, we didn’t quite know what to expect, but even if we had, it wouldn’t have compared with what we experienced on the night. Upwards of 1,000 people, from organisations like ours who comprise a handful of part-time freelancers to international publishing houses, as well as celebrity authors (including Monica Ali and, by video link, Salman Rushdie), sat side-by-side to celebrate everything associated with the British book industry.

Among a very strong shortlist of small presses we didn’t win the overall prize, but what an experience, and despite not winning in the finals I am truly grateful for, and immensely proud of, what we have achieved since the Scottish Mountaineering Press launched in 2020.

The team here is a wonderful bunch of incredibly talented and dedicated people whom I consider friends as much as colleagues. They accept that we operate within a niche field of the publishing industry and, despite the fact their talents would likely attract greater remuneration in the corporate world, they choose to support the work of the Press with pure passion, and are driven by strong values to do the best they can for the communities we serve. It is plain to see that we operate in a completely different world from larger publishing houses, which have almost incomparable access to resources.

Likewise, I want to recognise our authors and artists, who entrust us with work they’ve poured their hearts and souls into. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the excitement I feel when I receive a first draft of a book or essay, the nub of an idea or an unseen work of art―it is a real privilege.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, our parent charity, whose voluntary directors provide sage advice and support when required, but give us a freedom that makes the organisation feel like our own.

Finally, a big shout out to the wonderful communities that live in, visit, love and are inspired by our beautiful Scottish landscape. You’re the reason we’re doing this―thank you.