Saraband - Publisher of the Month

Founded in the early 1990s, Saraband publishes mostly illustrated non-fiction titles on subjects ranging from the arts and architecture to history, mythology, symbolism, nature and the environment. Based in the New York area before moving to Glasgow in 2000, the company has an outward-looking, international approach and works regularly with publishers in Europe, the USA and elsewhere on new titles and translations.

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Although many of their books, whether exploring the symbolism in great art or interpreting dreams, have worldwide appeal, in recent years some Saraband titles have looked closer to home, like the lavish Scottish Ballet: Forty Years, and The Garden Cottage Diaries, the ‘riveting story of a rather extraordinary journey’ by a woman who re-created the life of an 18th-century Scottish ancestor, making all her own clothes and growing her food. A new edition of this is due out next month in paperback.

Releases this year span a variety of topics. Due for autumn publication, Woodlanders celebrates the resurgence of a woodland culture in Britain, with contributions from horse-loggers and willow weavers, wood turners and artists, wild-food foragers and bushcraft experts, storytellers and play leaders; it covers all our native species and is illustrated with spectacular photographs. The Hidden Life of the Ancient Maya, by Clare Gibson, features artefacts, colourful murals, illuminated documents and the astronomical calendar that terminates in 2012, unpacking the manmade relics of this fascinating and bloodthirsty civilisation. The book is a companion to Gibson’s recent work on ancient Egypt, which was praised widely as ‘stunning’, compelling, lively and clear.

A new departure for Saraband this year is a step into fiction, with the recent publication of debut novel Making Shore, by Sara Allerton. A searing tale of survival, sacrifice, love and lies set in the aftermath of a torpedo strike by a U-boat on a Merchant Navy vessel during World War II, the novel combines action-adventure war drama with an intensely moving love story. With universal themes of love and betrayal, loyalty and loss at its heart, and inspired by a true wartime incident, it has attracted a resounding response from critics and readers alike, and is currently leading votes in the People’s Book Prize for summer 2010.

Winter 2010 titles include The Life and Times of Noetic Science, on the interface between the mind and material world (a subject popularised in Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol), as well as the self-help Exit Strategies, a thought-provoking, timely and indispensable book on what makes a ‘good’ death, what choices we can make to confront our fears and help those we love, and how to plan to relieve survivors of burdensome decisions when they are grieving.

Recent and forthcoming reissues include The Wright Experience, a sumptuous, large-format retrospective of the life and works of American architect and iconoclast Frank Lloyd Wright, and an update for the concise guidebook to worldwide buildings, Architecture: A Spotters Guide.

Whilst Saraband’s books are noted not just for fine writing but for their attractive design and production, 2010 also marks the company’s entry into the world of e-books, and the first apps are also under development. But physical books are not yet on the way out, and nor should they be when one journal’s reviewer recently wrote of The Garden Cottage Diaries: ‘If ever there was an argument for the survival of the printed book, this is it.’ No pressure, then!

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