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Worldwide sales grow for Gloucestershire publisher

By BHawes  |  Posted: December 23, 2013

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By Bev Hawes

The literary skills and the distinctive voices of the county are helping to drive a book publishing enterprise which is gaining worldwide sales.

Real Reads specialises in publishing 64-page books which re-tell some of the classics in a simplified form.

And although the target readership is eight to 14 year olds the beautifully illustrated books can appeal to a wider audience.

Real Reads is based in Stroud's Kendrick Street, above Made in Stroud, and is run by directors John Button, Fran Mosely and Gill Tavner.

Gill, a ghostwriter, adapter and copywriter, explained: "We met by chance and started with the English classics.

"In spite of the gloom and doom within the publishing industry Real Reads now has over 80 titles and is flourishing both at home and abroad.

"Not only is the business based in Kendrick Street but 30 of the titles are written by Stroud authors and all of the audio books are recorded in Stroud's DB Studios using predominantly Stroud voices courtesy largely of the Cotswold Players."

Real Reads has just agreed a South Korean deal worth £60,000 and rights to the books have so far been sold in 15 countries including India, China, Greece and the USA.

Real Reads Oliver Twist, retold by Gill, has already sold over 16,000 copies in the UK alone.

The aim is not to replace the classics but act as an introduction to the original books.

John Button said: "Our books make classic stories, dramas and histories available to intelligent young readers as a bridge to the originals, to language students and anyone else seeking access to other cultures and to adult readers who might, for whatever reason, want a quick fix."

Most recent titles include Muhammad: The Life of the Prophet and Siddhartha Gautama: The Life of the Buddha, retelling the lives of the founders of two major religions.

Real Reads has also featured All Quiet on the Western Front, The Riddle of the Sands and The Thirty Nine Steps.

There is also a guide for teachers called Reawakening Literature, which has been written by Jane Campion who lives in Stroud and teaches English at Katherine Lady Berkeley's School in Wotton-under-Edge. The Real Reads titles have been praised by such notables in the literary world as former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Radio 4 presenter Mariella Frostrup.

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