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Multi award-winning Highland publisher Sandstone Press collapses

By Philip Murray

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Some of Sandstone Press' past titles.
Some of Sandstone Press' past titles.

A HIGH-profile Highland publisher has collapsed into liquidation, it has been reported.

Sandstone Press' stock of active titles and its intellectual property have been bought by Sheffield-based Vertebrate Publishing following the shock news.

Details first emerged in industry website The Bookseller, which said that Sandstone Press had entered voluntary liquidation earlier this week after failing to find a buyer. News that its assets and IP have been acquired by Vertebrate Publishing have since been by that firm itself.

In a quote on its Twitter account, Vertebrate said: "Vertebrate Publishing purchased the stock (230 active titles) and IP of Sandstone Press this week. We intend to continue their great work as best we can. More details next week."

Its managing director, Jon Barton, was later quoted as saying: “I hope that the Sandstone authors will settle into their new home and we can continue to give them the excellent service provided by their previous publisher.”

He added that he hoped to keep Sandstone's legacy of literary success alive, and added that his firm were working to renegotiate with affected authors "so we can continue to keep their titles alive".

The collapse of Sandstone Press will come as a blow locally. The multi-award winning Dingwall publisher, which was set up in 2002, has enjoyed substantial high-profile success in its two decades of publishing.

It was twice named the publisher of the year by the Saltire Society, and in 2019 one of its successful authors – Jokha Alharthi – received the Man Booker International Prize for the book Celestial Bodies.

Celestial Bodies, Sandstone Press
Celestial Bodies, Sandstone Press

It also published a book of speeches by former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2021, and included the likes of Daniel Shand, Zoe Strachan and Peter Ross among its Scottish authors.

The firm's collapse follows a tough time for small publishers in the industry, with a number warning just this year that growing costs and overheads caused by rising inflation had contributed to difficult trading conditions.

There had been no statement from Sandstone Press at the time of writing, however, authors who have worked with the firm in the past, have taken to social media to speak of their shock.

Simon Varwell said: "Such sad news. Sandstone published my first book, back in 2010. Bob and Moira have done so many great things with the company - produced award winning books and balanced a range of genres.

"Not an easy industry these days, I feel so sorry for them and the wider staff."

Related: Strong list of outdoor books helps to build success story for Inverness-based publisher Sandstone Press

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