With the launch of the Second Volume of The Great Book of Skye due to take place on Thursday September 1 on the first day of The Skye Book Festival, The Skye Times asked the book’s creators – Cailean Maclean and Norman Macdonald – some questions about the book and its predecessor.
The original Great Book of Skye – launched at the Skye Book Festival in Aros on 2014 – has 598 packed pages of biographies, images, background and bibliographical guidance and sources and featured 563 Skye people.
The new volume, timed exclusively for this year’s festival, brings to notice a further 275 women and men who have left their mark on the island. Compiled from local and national resources, oral and written, its medley of themes makes it of interest to the scholar as well as to the person who wishes to find out about the ordinary – and the not-so-ordinary – people of Skye and their kin. Once again, the book has been exclusively created on Skye, published under the Great Book Publishing imprint in Aird Bernisdale, and designed by Luke Slater of Pelican Design in Portree.
Q: I guess from the imprint on the original Great Book of Skye (Great Book Publishing, Portree) that you set up your own publishing company to produce the book - was this the idea from the outset?
A: Yes, we felt that if we got an already established publisher involved, they would dictate the size, shape of the book, number of pictures etc. We did not want that.
Q: What was the original print run - if you wish to disclose it - and did the pace of sales surprise you?
A: The print run was 1500. 100 or so were given away (review copies, presents etc). I think we have about 200 left. We anticipated it would sell quite well and sales were in line with what we expected. The one surprise was how many we have sold through our website. (http://www.greatbookofskye.com)
Q: Is The Great Book of Skye 2 an extended edition of the first book - or a separate volume? If it's separate, have you any plans to have a second edition of the first book?
A: It is a second volume. A second edition of the original might be produced – we are considering issuing it as an e-book.
Q: I know from my own contacts that people throughout the Hebrides read the first book and spotted omissions they felt should be rectified. What proportion of the new additions were ones submitted by readers?
A: I can't be precise about this but I would say going on for half of the additions were suggested. We were already thinking about including some of those suggested, anyway.
A: Could you pick out and detail a couple of really unexpected suggestions that you took up - ie individuals that neither of you had even heard of before but once they were pointed out, you knew they had to be included.
Q: Not exactly answering your question but perhaps one of the most satisfying entries is that for Lachlan Murchison of Bernisdale, a member of a very famous shinty-playing family. When his name was suggested for the 2nd Volume, we could not understand how we managed to omit Lachlan and his family from the 1st volume.
A: How far have the sales of the first book spread geographically?
Q: We have sent (at great expense) books to places like Australia, Canada, USA.
A: And finally, are there any of your prepared remarks for the new launch which you would like to disclose in advance?
Q: I would be happy to but we have not yet prepared what we will say at the launch.