Why 2013 Was a Great Year for Canongate

Traditional print publishers have been struggling in recent years thanks to the dramatic rise of e-readers and e-books. However, that does not mean that they could not find a way through the problem and get to real success.

Canongate, the Edinburgh-based publisher, has been able to enjoy real success and a major turning point, which came in 2013. This year (2013), the firm’s turnover increased to £9.6 million – a rise of around 22%. The upturn in fortunes came about thanks to the publication of not less than five Sunday Times Bestsellers in 2015.

One of the publications was the Booker Prize-winning novel, Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel. This was 11 years after Canongate first published the tale. The renewed interest had come about mainly due to the release of the novel’s film version. Adding the Karl Pilkington books based on the ‘An Idiot Abroad’ TV series to the novel publication, the sales were extremely healthy.

Digital sales have also been extremely good for Canongate, and 2013 was a good year for these too. Demand for their e-books grew by 233%, raking in sales of around £2.5 million. Canongate books (e.g. Down Under) also sold well in 2013. The CEO of the company, Jamie Byng, commended the publishing firm for its commitment and investment in new authors.

While there had been a couple of lean years in Canongate’s history, there have been good times prior to 2013 as well. The company, which was founded in 1973, spent much of its first 20 years promoting Scottish authorship but soon expanded its horizons to publish works by authors from all over the world, and 2007 is a good example. In this year, the memoirs of the almost unheard-of man, Barack Obama, were published and sold- millions of copies. The Canongate Myths also brought in renowned writers, including Philip Pullman and Alexander McCall Smith, to rework some well-known myths, and these were a huge hit.