Winner - Independent Publisher of the Year - Bookseller Industry Awards 2013
About Alma Books
Alma Books was set up in October 2005 by Alessandro Gallenzi and Elisabetta Minervini, the founders of Hesperus Press. Publishing from twenty to twenty-five titles a year, mainly in the field of contemporary literary fiction, Alma takes around half of its titles from English-language originals, while the rest are translations from other languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese. Alma also publishes two or three non-fiction titles each year.
Alma – which is Spanish for 'soul' – is a publisher that regards a book as an aesthetic artefact rather than as a mass-produced commodity. The company's whole emphasis lies on quality over quantity, all the way from choosing projects for publication to creating the physical look and feel of the books. Alma works closely and intimately with authors to develop the best possible finished scripts, and displays a commitment to the kind of professional editing, copy-editing and proofreading that is dying out elsewhere.
Alma's launch title, Anthony McCarten's The English Harem, sold over 20,000 copies when it was released in December 2005. This early success was matched, in 2006, by William T. Vollmann's National Book Award-winning epic, Europe Central, Mike Stocks's sparkling Indian comedy, White Man Falling, winner of the Goss First Novel award, Robert M. Pirsig's Lila, a sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Tom McCarthy's debut novel Remainder, which has garnered huge critical acclaim both in the UK and across the world.
2007 brought Alma the phenomenal success of Michel Benoît's religious thriller, The Thirteenth Apostle, which has now sold close to 80,000 copies, as well as Jane Hawking's memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen and Carmen Posadas's witty Moroccan mystery, The Last Resort.
In 2008 Alma has consolidated its status as one of the most adventurous – but at the same time commercial – publishers in the English language, with remarkable additions to its list such as Alexander Terekhov's satirical masterpiece The Rat-Killer and Tibor Fischer's new novel, Good to Be God.
In 2009 Alma's programme expanded along the same lines – with a similar balance of international and English titles, established writers and debut authors. Our highlights for 2009 include Sarah Stonich's beautifully written The Ice Chorus, a new edition of The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy with a foreword by Doris Lessing, Kachi A. Ozumba's darkly humorous The Shadow of a Smile, and Rosie Alison's moving war-time novel, The Very Thought of You.
2010 saw Rosie's novel – which by now has sold over 100,000 copies – being shortlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction and longlisted for many other important literary prizes such as the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year and the Le Prince Maurice Prize, while Kachi's book was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Later in the year, such renowned authors as Michel Houellebecq, Alberto Manguel and Lindsay Clarke joined the Alma ranks.
2011 was another greatly successful year, and saw the publication of Aharon Appelfeld’s Blooms of Darkness, Anna Stothard’s The Pink Hotel and Peter Benson’s Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke. Blooms of Darkness went on to win the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, The Pink Hotel was longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and Two Cows was selected for Fiction Uncovered 2012.
In 2012 Alma published Peter Conradi’s acclaimed book The Great Survivors and Louise Miller’s A Fine Brother, alongside Clara Sánchez’s sophisticated and nail-biting page-turner The Scent of Lemon Leaves in June and N. M. Kelby’s delicious White Truffles in Winter in September.
2012 was also the year Alma Books acquired Oneworld Classics which had previously been developed in partnership with Oxford-based non-fiction publisher Oneworld Publications. Now renamed as Alma Classics the new list reflects a fresh approach to the classics with the launch of a new series in 2013 called Evergreens. A series dedicated to making great literature available to every reader at an affordable price without compromising on quality and production. Alma Classics also includes two new imprints: The Calder Collection and the opera and classical-music list Overture Publishing.
At the end of 2012 Alma Books received the Premio Nazionale per la Traduzione by the Italian Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali for their contribution to the promotion of Italian culture abroad. Since the award's inauguration in 1989, it had never before been awarded to a British publisher.
In 2013 Alma won Independent Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards.
Watch an interview with Alessandro Gallenzi and Elisabetta Minervini, courtesy of Nils Kahlefendt, 2013