Books – Thinking Big

This spring, Profile Books celebrates two decades in business. It was born in Clerkenwell and is a pure indie publishing success story. Here, we highlight its 20 claims to fame.

1 Taxing start Based in Hatton Garden, Profile launched with a focus on business titles, including dry but useful books such as the Lloyds Bank Tax Guide (1997).

2 Rapper’s delight The 48 Laws of Power (1998) claims to reveal the historic secrets of the rich and successful – it’s big with rappers like 50 Cent.

3 Enduring Alan The Lady in the Van (1999) was Profile author Alan Bennett’s account of the homeless woman who lived in his garden. It’s a bestseller again thanks to the film.

4 Mystic Marr The Day Britain Died (2000) was Andrew Marr’s millennium-inspired glimpse into the future – it even proposed Alan Bennett for president.

5 M&S distress The Rise and Fall of Marks & Spencer (2001) had to be revised with a longer title in 2007 (…And How it Rose Again), but it remains a classic business case study of a retail giant.

6 Righting wrongs Ludovic Kennedy was famously obsessed with miscarriages of justice. His final book, 36 Murders and Two Immoral Earnings (2002), came up with controversial conclusions.

7 Grammar glory The publishing surprise of 2003 was Eats, Shoots & Leaves, a witty guide to good grammar by Lynne Truss. It went on to sell more than three million worldwide.

8 Coalition builder You probably didn’t read it, but the essays by Liberal Democrat MPs, including Nick Clegg, in The Orange Book (2004) paved the way for the coalition government.

9 Popular science Profile’s partnership with New Scientist magazine resulted in a series devoted to quirky queries and sales of 2.5 million. Does Anything Eat Wasps? and 101 Other Questions (2005) was an early hit.

10. Roman Life Around the time Profile was moving into the bustling hotspot of Exmouth Market, Mary Beard was writing about the street life and fast food of a Roman town in Pompeii (2008).

11 Blair necessity Most ministers’ memoirs end up in the remainder shop, but Chris Mullin chronicled the Blair government with rare wit and insight in A View from the Foothills (2009).

12 Font fest A fascinating history of typefaces, Simon Garfield’s Just My Type (2010) tells the story of fonts and reveals how Helvetica took over the world.

13 Ghost story Profile reissued Susan Hill’s spooky classic The Woman in Black in 2011, ahead of the movie starring Daniel Radcliffe.

14 Power trip Why Nations Fail (2012) is a brave attempt by a pair of academics to explain national success and failure; essential reading for any aspiring world leaders.

15 Time travel Published by Profile’s Clerkenwell Press imprint, 1913 (2013) is a clever cultural portrait of a 12-month period before the world changed forever.

16 Booker hit Profile’s Serpent’s Tail imprint has released acclaimed novels, including Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2014), a bestseller shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

17 Crime Pays Profile and Oxfam aimed to raise £200,000 with the OxCrimes (2014) anthology – a killer collection of crime stories.

18 Life and death Being Mortal (2014), by Atul Gawande, is a surgeon’s bestselling account of the realities of getting old and dying.

19 BBC row Just as Profile was settling into its new home in Holford Yard, Jean Seaton’s history of the BBC, Pinkoes and Traitors (2015), proved controversial and kept Private Eye busy for weeks.

20 Oscar inspiration Spotlight won best film at the Academy Awards and Profile publishes the tie-in book, Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church (2016).