It was in 2007 that Canongate chose to publish the memoirs of a US politician. At that time Barack Obama was not widely known but his book became a bestseller, even before he started his campaign for the presidency. Two million copies of ‘Dreams from my Father’ have now been sold and it is one of the company’s top-selling titles.
A series of reimagined myths was unveiled in 2005 at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Authors such as Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson worked on the titles and later additions to the series included works from Alexander McCall Smith, Philip Pullman and AS Byatt. The Canongate Myths were published around the world in 32 different countries.
Canongate went on to embrace humour in 2008 with the publication of ‘The Mighty Book of Boosh’. With over a quarter of a million copies sold it soon became clear that there was a strong market for comic writing. Many people will recognise the ‘Simon’s Cat’ books. This character has been an internet hit for a long time and the books have also proved to be a huge success.
A TV tie-in was the next big hit for Canongate. The TV series ‘An Idiot Abroad’ led to Canongate publishing a book based on the series which has since sold more than a million copies. Since then Canongate has published another Man Booker Prize shortlisted work – ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki. This book was published in all formats at the same time.
Canongate has also been working behind the scenes to promote reading. The CEO, Jamie Byng, is the founder of World Book Night and there are also initiatives to promote letter writing. Canongate actively encourages authors who seek to expand their horizons into new genres and create new works for a new audience.