Publishing is in rude health here in Yorkshire and we should shout from the rooftops that an author from God’s Own Country and Bluemoose Books, based in Hebden Bridge, has just won a national literary prize. Beastings, by Benjamin Myers, won the £10,000 Portico Literature Prize, beating the likes of Alan Garner, Melvin Bragg and Sarah Hall. Given the marketing heft from the multi-national publishing houses, it was a bit of a coup. Great for Ben, who lives in Mytholmroyd and fantastic for Bluemoose too.
We had another first when Nod, by Adrian Barnes, shortlisted for the biggest science fiction award in Europe, the Clarke Award, was published in North America. In March it will also be published in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We’ve also sold our first books in Greenland, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. From the cobbles of Hebden via the Andes, the Rockies, Parramatta and Waitangi, great stories beautifully told and all published here in West Yorkshire.
Mainstream publishing has become risk averse and sold to the idea that committees of sales and marketing gurus know what will sell. Readers want great stories, period, from wherever they come from and that’s we do here at Bluemoose. Next year we have some brilliant books. We have the second novel from Anna Chilvers, Tainted Love, coming out in the spring and a debut from Mirfield resident Dan Micklethwaite, The Less Than Perfect World of Donna Creosote – a brilliant look at Huddersfield through the eyes of a young woman who thinks she’s Don Quixote. Stunning. To start the year off we publish a book that was long listed for the Asia Man Booker, If You Look For Me, I Am Not Here, by Sarayu Srivatsa, already garnering fantastic reviews. Sarayu has created a moving family portrait, richly-coloured by the vibrant culture and landscape of India.
With the ever burgeoning rise of online booksellers it is great to see that independent booksellers are still managing to thrive despite the heavy discounting from the internet. I do think readers really appreciate the personal touch of recommendations and service that an independent bookseller can provide and without the help and support from independent booksellers across Yorkshire we would struggle to get our books into the hands of readers. A book we published a few years back, Gabriel’s Angel, by Mark Radcliffe, is the bestselling book of all time at Much Ado Books in Alfriston.
Of course there are still barriers to knock down. It would seem being a publisher in the North doesn’t carry as much weight as being from that place they call London but we know that with our books winning prizes and our authors getting tremendous reviews, readers don’t seem to care about where a book is published, just that it is a beautiful story that engages and inspires and from the streets of Hebden we’ll continue to publish great stories.