Ever since the day I first saw the French edition of The Snow Leopard I have wanted my books to be published in this larger format. From the first I was told no, by editorial and sales. Bookshops won’t like them, libraries won’t like them, because they won’t fit on the shelves, I was told. Every year I would ask, every year I was told no. It worked in France, where there was still the net book agreement in place, where books come in all shapes and sizes. ( The Snow Leopard won an award in France and sold over 13 000 copies.)
Meanwhile I found two books in bookshops dominating the indies, Maps and Animalium, both large format, both beautiful, both selling well. So, I asked again and was told that, no, the size can’t work with 40 pages, and 32 pages. ( Hits own head against wall, screams quietly inside).
Then I met Graffeg. During the course of working with them we produced The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow. It’s a large format production, selling at £25. And, guess what? It did sell. It was Love Reading no 1 in the charts for weeks. The 19% of independent bookshops in the UK who took the book put it in the windows, on the tables, and face out on shelves, because it was big. Matthew of Graffeg said that he loved the way people would pick the book up and hug it, close to their chests. It seems that my books sell well in this large format. And so, when the rights for Icebear and The Snow Leopard were reverted to me I spoke to Graffeg and said, ‘if I give you the rights to these two books will you produce them in the large format, the same as Quiet Music?’ No hesitation. Matthew said yes. He said he had seen how people responded to The Quiet Music and to build a large format library of my books, showcasing the artwork was definitely the way forward.
Today Graffeg announced the reissuing of these two books, in large format, on beautiful paper. ( Still trying to persuade them to produce them with no title or author name on covers!) Hoping there might also be Welsh language editions. Which leads me on to this. My favourite foreign edition. Tibetan.
Some time ago I was asked by a charity if they could produce a Tibetan language edition. I leapt at the chance. The people behind the request were the Rogpa Charitable Trust. However, the first reaction from my publishers came back as negative. Sometimes I refuse to take no for an answer. There wasn’t any money in this, but neither was there a reason to say no. The aim of the book was to encourage the Tibetan language to remain a living language both at home and among those in exile. So, I worked, with my editor, Janetta Otter-Barry, to get this passed and eventually the book came to life and to light. I can’t tell you what it feels like to know that this book which came to mind in a series of ideas while walking the coast path in Pembrokeshire now wanders the mountains of Tibet. This is worth so much more than money.
The Snow Leopard and Icebear have sold 53 991 and 30 561 copies so far in their lifetime. Snow Leopard is ten years old this year. I’ve been told stories of children sleeping with the books tucked under their pillows, families who have used the book as a harbour to help them through bereavement, and has been used to raise money for and awareness of snow leopards in the wild by the Snow Leopard Trust. I hope these new editions carry the beautiful leopards and bears into the hearts, dreams and minds of many more people.
The new editions will publish in September, and be available from Solva Woollen Mill in August I hope, and we will have a launch party to celebrate their release back into the wild.