Founded in 1962 by John Rotheroe, Shire Publications has earned a unique reputation in British publishing. Bringing together experts and enthusiasts, Shire has continually sought to fill the gaps in published material, providing affordable non-fiction paperbacks that reflect the interests and passions of ordinary people everywhere. In its short history the company has published over 1000 titles, covering a broad and eclectic range of subjects rarely, if ever, published elsewhere.
Shire’s first publication, Discovering East Suffolk was a 24 page guide to the county through a series of five motoring routes and a gazetteer of the main towns and villages. It was given away to visitors via coach operators, local churches and tourist information points. Advertisements for businesses in the gazetteer section were intended to cover the costs of production but the revenue generated was insufficient so, to save money, the sheets of the book were folded, gathered and stapled by hand. The book was a great success and when it was realized that many of the copies given away were being resold it was decided to sell the second edition, and this set the template for the future of Shire, albeit without the adverts!
Over the next few years, Shire continued to publish a variety of county guides under the Discovering series banner until branching out into other subjects in 1967 with Discovering Brasses. Two new series followed in 1972/3: Lifelines, a range of illustrated biographies, and the famous Shire Albums, slightly longer texts providing information on architectural, collecting, domestic, industrial, rural and social themes, illustrated with photographs, engravings and drawings. The following year yet another new series, Shire Archaeology, was instituted, bringing the Shire approach to packaging specialist information for the student and general reader to this popular discipline. Ten years later this formula was extended to the history and archaeology of Ancient Egypt with Shire Egyptology.
For many years Shire was based in a seventeenth century house in the Buckinghamshire market town of Princes Risborough, where a small dedicated staff saw the Shire list expand massively, and the number of Shire stockists rise exponentially. By the 1980s Shire’s impressive list had became a real British institution, and well stocked spinners of Shire books could be found in the shops of museums, country houses and other visitor attractions, as well as traditional bookshops up and down the land.
In 2007 John Rotheroe decided to retire and sold the company to Osprey Publishing. Shire moved to Osprey’s Oxford offices and Nick Wright took over as Publisher, immediately drawing up plans to re-launch the list. The new vision for Shire was to increase the number of new books published each year, introduce fresh new cover and text designs and reintroduce old Shire favourites that had been out of print for years. Shire’s series have been rationalised, with a number of the smaller series joining the old Albums in the ‘Shire Library’, and two new larger-format paperback series – ‘Shire Collections’ and ‘Shire History’ have been introduced. The success of Shire continues and we are sure that the Shire name will be an important part of the scene for many years to come.
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Osprey is committed to doing as much as possible to help protect the environment through all parts of our business. Our environmental policy is constantly reviewed to ensure the company meets, and where possible exceeds, the requirements of all relevant legislation.
• We ensure all paper used in our books is from sustainable forests and that no elemental chlorine is used in its manufacture.
• We contribute, via the Woodland Trust, to the planting of trees to offset wood pulp used in manufacturing our books.
• We minimise our consumption of resources (materials, fuel and energy) through staff information and constant monitoring.
• We attempt to reduce all waste and to recycle wherever possible