The Business of Beautiful Outdoor Books with Jon Barton, Vertebrate Publishing


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By Jamie Veitch. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Nearly 20 years ago Jon Barton created a mountain biking guide to the trails he loved to ride in the Peak District. Since then his firm Vertebrate Publishing has grown with its authors and the business scooping multiple accolades and awards, including Small Press of the Year at the 2022 British Book Awards.
It publishes beautiful and inspiring outdoor adventure books and guides. Jon joins me for a thoughtful conversation about:

  • how the publishing industry and his business has evolved over nearly two decades
  • what the business did to double turnover without diluting the quality of its books
  • collaborating with other independent publishers in Sheffield and the UK
  • the impact of massive increases in the cost of printing
  • publishing carbon neutral and carbon negative books
  • taking a more robust approach to commissioning and what that means
  • selling direct vs selling on Amazon and elsewhere
  • what Sheffield's "Outdoor City" campaign means for the business and Jon
  • new titles: "We Can't Run Away From This" by Damian Hall, "Where There's a Hill" by Sabrina Verjee and "Retirement Rebel" which comes out in October
  • why he loves being harangued at the crag or in the pub about his books

Vertebrate Publishing is a great Sheffield success story. What's the next chapter? Jon gives open and candid answers about the highs and lows of running a business built on passion for adventure in many forms.
Also in the show: new funding and events for businesses and social enterprises.

  • 0-2:45 Introduction
  • 2:45 Jon Barton interview (Vertebrate Publishing's website:
  • 45:49 Funding for businesses and social enterprises – grants of up to £200,000 from the Friends Provident Foundation Fair and Sustainable Economy Fund; the Digital Innovation Grant (DIG) programme in South Yorkshire; the Energy Bill Relief Scheme
  • 49:57 An upcoming event: Sheffield Forum Live #4: 12 October 2022
  • 51:30 Wrapping up with reflections on interest rates, the power of regional radio, the late author Hilary Mantel and how to get in touch

Thanks for listening.

188 episodes