Publisher of the Month: Sandstone Press
Summer of 2006 represents something of a milestone for Sandstone. For two years we have been publishing in the field of Adult Literacy, presenting books written in appropriate language for adult learners. This idea of 'appropriate language' contains a paradox. To ensure such things as syntax and vocabulary have just the right degree of challenge, a complex process of editing, sampling and re-editing has to be navigated.
Our first Education Pack, for Adult Learners in Colleges and Groups, has just been released. Two more, for English as an Additional Language, and for Schools, are in preparation. All carry a foreword by Neil McClelland, Director of the National Literacy Trust. These Education Packs will break new ground and answer an urgent need in one of the most neglected and important of fields, Adult Literacy.
At the same time Sandstone has been publishing a quarterly online arts magazine, Sandstone Review, novellas in both Gaelic and English, and a poetry translation from the Catalan. The Review's final issue, #9, will be published in the Summer of 2006.
Now we are further advanced in terms of organisation and experience, Sandstone will concentrate on delivering hard copy of high quality. We have most recently published the latest of Kenneth White's essay collections, On The Atlantic Edge, comprising a series of talks given in 2005. This will be the first of 'The Highliner Series' that Kenneth will direct from his base in France. The second book will be The Radical Field by Tony MacManus which should be available before the end of 2006.
Two Gaelic novellas will be published in the autumn, presented to the reading public for 'Advanced Learners and accomplished readers'. Like the Vista series of books, while these are directed at a specific educational market they can be enjoyed by any reader. Readability is the point; interest and entertainment and relevance are what get the pages turned. Angus Peter Campbell continues to be Sandstone's Gaelic Consultant.
The Highliner Series is thoughtful, penetrating, and also has at least one foot in education. The Sandstone Board found themselves flattered, at a recent meeting with the Scottish Arts Council, to be described as having 'reunited Scottish publishing with Education'. It is a road the Company will continue along, never (and this is a promise) removing itself from Adult Literacy.
It doesn't end there. Each of these books is a worthwhile publication in itself, but they are also part of a widening base. Other books of non-fiction are commissioned and are in preparation. It would not be right to name them or their authors at this stage since there is many a slip between cup and lip, but look forward to the first of these being published later in 2006, with two more following in early 2007.
The origins of Sandstone Press lie in a book titled After the Watergaw, conceived and edited by Robert Davidson for the benefit of the charity WaterAid (Scotland) and published by Scottish Cultural Press in 1998. From there the trail runs through Northwords Magazine's reviews section, Northwords as an arts magazine, and associations with all kinds of arts bodies and publications.
Progress has not been pain free and has brought some uncomfortable realisations. For example, it really does seem to be true that, although a population of five million in Scotland can and does sustain an identifiable, self-renewing culture, it is not sufficient to maintain a publishing industry that includes authors, agents, designers, printers, sales reps, distributors and book shops, and harbours ambitions of development and growth.
Outreach to other countries is therefore vital, carrying with it the possibility of commercial success as well as the positive benefits an international outlook provides not only a larger market but the re-seeding of our own culture. Against that, there is the threat of engulfment with consequent loss of identity - but we've been handling that for 300 years.
People have come and gone but the present Board of Managing Editor Robert Davidson, Company Secretary Iain Gordon, and Editing Director Moira Forsyth looks to be working well and sharing the same vision. We'll continue together.
Soon, perhaps, we will turn to fiction publishing and that will just about complete our portfolio. Survival is on a hairline. Industrial marketing focuses on a few big sellers and not enough people buy books off the hit parade. Too many large slices are taken out of the cover price, although not without reason. At this point of change we remember that everything we do today is preparation for what we do tomorrow. It's a building thing. These are the foundations we are working on.
The 'Sandstone Highliner' series follows and prolongs the high line of world culture as viewed by its director, Kenneth White, one of the liveliest and most comprehensive minds working in Europe today.
- The Highway Men - - Paperback
The weather has gone crazy & the war has spread to China. Jase, Euan & Murdo are laggers: forced workers in a future Scotland. The laggers are helping to lay a new power line in the Highlands. Ailiss, a young woman from a secret settlement in the frozen hills, is going to strain their loyalties to breaking point.
- Wicked! - - Paperback
Jas overhears his wife in bed with an Italian. His plan to retire early & spend their winters in Italy is out the window. He tries to confront Linda but it all goes wrong. Is she toying with him? She's toying with lots of other things - Italians, sexy underwear, massage oil.
- Winning Through - - Paperback
In 'Winning Through', Brian Irvine tells the truth about his life as a footballer. From family life in Airdrie we follow him as he realises his boyhood dreams. He becomes an international player with Aberdeen and Scotland. But he has to cope with bad times, and worse, when he is told he has a serious and possibly fatal illness.