Scotland’s Palimpsest: On Moving from Services to Publisher

In Digital by Dennis Abrams

Scottish Eclassics collection

photo craig morrison

Scotland’s Palimpsest started as a publishing pre-press and services provider, but seeing a niche in the market has moved into publishing digital editions of Scottish classics.

By Dennis Abrams

Last month’s BEA saw the announcement that Scotland’s Palimpsest, the UK’s leading provider of pre-press and digital services, has become a publisher in its own right with the U.S. launch of The eClassics Collection, aimed at saving Scottish classic literature for future generations.

photo craig morrisonThe series is made up of 15 ebundles (3 ebook collections) celebrating some of the finest Scottish writing. Each edition has been carefully reproduced, some professional digitized for the first time, with an emphasis on quality. Each bundle is available for only £2.99 ($3.99 in the U.S.), with the goal of making these books “affordable, accessible and attractive” to today’s readers.

I had the opportunity to speak with founder Craig Morrison about the series:

Can you give me a little more info on your background in publishing?

My own background in publishing is in the technology space – software for the publishing and print market working in both the UK and the USA. I started Palimpsest in 1994, with the company supplying pre-press services to many of the UK’s leading publishing houses. Over the years we worked for many bestselling authors (from Stephen King to JK Rowling) and gained a huge amount of publishing experience. As we broadened our services to provide complete project management (editorial, design, production, digital, print placement, etc.) it became apparent we had the skill set to consider our own publishing venture. This allied to a huge love of Scottish literature and a recognition of the need for affordable quality digital editions spawned the idea for The eClassics Collection.

Why now?

In response to the shift to ebook format. Research suggests readers are now consuming 50% of their fiction on dedicated ‘e’reading devices or tablets. The Scottish classics were poorly served by ebooks, with either very poor quality editions, or highly priced editions. The eClassics Collection fills a niche – high quality affordable digital editions, bundled by subject matter. Thus we hope to introduce these wonderful books and authors to a new audience of digital readers.

What are your plans for the company – what kinds of books do you hope to publish in the future?

We have high hopes for the initial 15 launch titles in The eClassics Collection. In the pipeline, we potentially have some more Scottish Classics, but we also have plans for similar digital editions of English classics, Irish Classics and the Great American novel.

If any of your readers have ideas on what should be included ask them to tweet us @eClassicBundles using the hashtag #USlostclassics. In terms of contemporary publishing, we work with some small presses helping their books to market. This may evolve into small-scale commercial publishing at some point. But for the moment we’re focused on Classics.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about Scottish lit or Palimpsest?

I’m sure your readers are familiar with Scottish literature, particularly the rich canon of work from the 18th and 19th century. Not only are there many fantastic books, but the authors are in many instances fascinating characters. John Buchan is best known for The 39 Steps but he wrote over 30 novels, several collections of short stories and numerous biographies. He was an Oxford scholar, member of Parliament, diplomat and Governor General of Canada. His own biography is a fantastic read. Likewise Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his Sherlock Holmes character, was also a physician and accomplished sportsman.

With regard to Palimpsest — your readers can learn more at But I assume they are a well-read (and trustworthy) group, so the first five to email you and explain what a Palimpsest is (without recourse to google or a dictionary) can choose a title from the current eClassics collection which we’ll supply with pleasure.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.