About

Birlinn Ltd – Passionately Independent

Birlinn Limited is an independent publishing house based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company is built on a tradition of the written and spoken word and is constantly looking to the future.

Established in 1992, Birlinn Limited publishes books under a number of imprints: 

Birlinn; Polygon; BC Books; Arena Sport; and John Donald.

The team at Birlinn are proud of the company’s reputation and prominence in Scottish publishing. We constantly challenge and nurture the talent of our authors and we push the boundaries of the imagination.  We never rest in our search for what comes next. 

Stay a while, take a look around the site: look, listen, read.

What we stand for…

Open and honest, welcoming and inclusive

The long-standing aim of Birlinn Ltd is to create an inclusive staff team and nurture writers and illustrators who together reflect the diversity and stories of our nation and the audience who will read them. Whilst we sit at the heart of cultural life in Scotland, our authors are known far beyond, and we are proud of what we have achieved together since we started out in 1992.

In order to deliver on our aim, and as we move forward, we are working to remove barriers. We seek out new talent and new collaborations and welcome the opportunities they bring.

Who takes us forward…

Our leadership team is made up of a working Board – three women and four men – from a variety of educational and social backgrounds. We are not shy of embracing a wide range of influences.

None of our books would be published without the dedication of our small but highly skilled team. We are committed to providing an inclusive, supportive and flexible working environment which acknowledges that work is only one aspect of life, promotes equality and diversity, values the contribution of all staff members and encourages everyone, regardless of gender, age, religion, identity or experience, to grow and realise their potential.

Birlinn – Scottish and general UK interest books, from biography to history, military to politics, and Scottish Gaelic. The name comes from the old Norse word ‘birlinn’, meaning a long boat or small galley used especially in the Hebrides and West Highlands of Scotland in the Middle Ages.

Polygon – literary fiction and poetry, both classic and modern, by writers as highly acclaimed as Liz Lochhead, Agnes Owens, Norman MacCaig, Robin Jenkins, George Mackay Brown, Denzil Meyrick and the author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith. High profile music journalists Stuart Cosgrove, Tom Doyle, Vic Galloway and Zoë Howe all publish non-fiction with Polygon.

BC Books – Bold Books for Curious Kids – writing and illustration of the highest quality for young readers throughout the UK and beyond. BC Books is dedicated to nurturing young readers and helping them discover a passion for reading that will last a lifetime.

Arena Sport – sports books for the general trade ranging from football and rugby to golf and cycling. These books have an international as well as national appeal.

Birlinn eBook – eBooks across all imprints.

John Donald – our academic books.