Big cash boost for Sheffield outdoor book firm

A Sheffield adventure book publisher is set to be transformed by a £250,000 investment from an outdoor entrepreneur.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 7:47 pm
Jon Barton, publisher, Lorna Hargreaves, head of marketing, Sarah Gunton, digital assets editor, and Jane Beagley, head of design. Picture: NSTB-06-02-19-Vertebrate-4

Vertebrate Publishing will create five jobs in editorial, marketing and production this year and double production to 60 books annually.

The seven-strong company, based on Cemetery Road, has had several “excellent” trading years and is a key part of Sheffield’s ‘Outdoor City’ brand.

The cash is from Stephen Ross, a former chairman of running shoe firm Inov-8 and a number of ‘international high-growth companies’. He joins the VP board.

Founder Jon Barton said the money would allow them to take a punt on new authors and commission more in-depth books, like the just-published Lake District bouldering guide which was five years in the making.

He added: “Producing books that inspire people to go out and have adventures is what we are all about. Being able to extend what we do, and producing more cycling, climbing, walking and running books, can only be a good thing.

“Sheffield has been key to attracting this level of investment, with over 25,000 Strava users, 10,000 active climbers, 14,000 registered Parkrunners, the city is the epicentre of outdoor pursuits in the UK.”

Stephen Ross said: “It is great to be working with Jon and his team at a time when there is unprecedented interest in outdoor sports and books are enjoying a resurgence.

“We have so many ideas for new titles and we need to grow our team of like-minded people to help make them happen. The investment will enable Vertebrate to do just that.”

Vertebrate has produced 300 books since 2004, including Dark Peak Mountain Biking which is still in the top 20 cycling books in this country, the firm says.

Its roster of guides, accounts of epic ascents and coffee table heavyweights chart the boom in adventure sports in recent years.

In February, Vertebrate advertised for an editor, attracting more than 30 CVs, including five from London and three from Oxford, demonstrating Sheffield’s growing pull on outdoor enthusiasts.