Published: 12/11/2014 05:57 - Updated: 12/11/2014 06:31

Dingwall firm scoops prestigious publisher of the year accolade

Written byHector Mackenzie

Sandstone Press managing director, Bob Davidson
Sandstone Press managing director, Bob Davidson

THE quality and "enthusiastic pragmatism" of a small Dingwall company has been recognised with a prestigious award.

Sandstone Press has been named Publisher of the Year at the 2014 Saltire Literary Awards.

The company had faced strong competition from a shortlist including sports specialists Backpage Press, general interest publishers such as Glasgow-based Freight and Edinburgh-based Birlinn, children’s and adult non-fiction publisher Floris and independent educational publisher Bright Red.

Sandstone was praied by the judging panel for their “enthusiastic pragmatism” and the quality of their editorial work.

Supported by Creative Scotland, the Publisher of the Year award was added to the Saltire Literary Awards roster in 2013 and is accompanied by a cash prize of £4,000 to assist further development of the winning company’s business.

Sandstone's extensive fiction and non-fiction roster includes titles as varied as A Soldier's Best Friend: The canine heroes of Afghanistan by Stephen Paul Stewart; Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Chris Townsend and the novel Full Measure by T. Jefferson Parker.

Executive Director of the Saltire Society Jim Tough said: “The Publisher of the Year award is a very recent addition to the Saltire Literary Awards.

"Once again, this year’s shortlist was very strong and shows the Scottish publishing industry to be in fine fettle. All of the companies shortlisted showed evidence of the creativity and adaptability needed to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

"My congratulations go to Sandstone Press for winning this year’s award. I am sure we will see their business continue to thrive and develop in the year ahead and beyond.”

Sandstone Press Managing Director Bob Davidson said: "Thank you to Creative Scotland for supporting us, thank you to Publishing Scotland for guiding us, and thank you to the Saltire Society for these wonderful awards.

"Thank you above all, to the people who buy our books, because they are our world.”

The Saltire Literary Awards are  firmly established as Scotland’s most prestigious annual book awards.

Writers shortlisted for the five individual book categories this year included well-known broadcasters Sally Magnusson and Kirsty Wark as well as new writing talents such as Niall Campbell and Kirsty Logan and established Scottish writers and past winners including A L Kennedy and Martin MacIntyre.

 Category winners were announced included:

  • The Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award supported by Tamdhu Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky:

Moontide, [Bloodaxe Books], a collection of verse from Edinburgh-based Niall Campbell and strongly influenced by his upbringing on the Western Isles

  • The Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year Award supported by the National Library of Scotland:

The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment 1740-1820 [Edinburgh University Press] by Scottish academics Robert Harris and Charles McKean (McKean having died in September 2013), examining how Scotland’s burghs improved themselves during the eighteenth century

  • The Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award (also new for 2014) supported by the Scottish Poetry Library and Creative Scotland:

Bones and Breath [Salt], a collection that savours the music and heft of language, including and especially Scots, written by Buckie-born and raised poet Alexander Hutchison

  • The Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year Award supported by the Scottish Historical Review Trust:

Scottish Gods, Religion in the Modern Scotland 1900-2012 [Edinburgh University Press] by leading social historian Steve Bruce, exploring how religion in Scotland has become more varied over time

  • The Saltire Scottish Literary Book of the Year Award (new for 2014) supported by the Saltire Society:

How to be Both [Hamish Hamilton], a set of two novels which interpenetrate each other despite being set centuries apart, by Inverness-born writer and 1995 Saltire First Book of the Year award winner Ali Smith. The book was also shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

This year’s headline award went to Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year “The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment 1740-1820”.

The book explores how Scotland’s eighteenth century burghs improved themselves and the significance of this for modern understanding of a society in a state of transition.

Described by the judging panel as "magisterial" and considered "a pioneering study of Scottish urbanisation", the book was the product of an extensive three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Awards ceremony also included an announcement of the winner of the Saltire Society’s 2014 Ross Roy Medal.

Established in 2009, this award commemorates the outstanding contribution to Scottish literature by Professor G Ross Roy of the University of South Carolina.

Supporting the next generation of academics, the medal is awarded to the best PhD thesis on a subject relating to Scottish literature. This year’s winner was Barbara Leonardi from Stirling University for her thesis, "An Exploration of Gender Stereotypes in the Work of James Hogg".

Winner of the 2015 Saltire Society Literary Travel Bursary, supported by the British Council was also announced. Lenore Bell, from St Andrews University, intends to use the £1,500 cash prize towards research for a novel set in Edwardian Brooklyn in the USA.

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