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Llanerch Press



Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints

Llanerch are a country publishing company based in rural Somerset, England. They specialise in small print editions and facsimile reprints of old books and ancient texts, many of which have been painstakingly translated from the original language. Their wide range of books cover many historical periods and subjects and are available to order through their catalogue and their website.

Here, Digger talks to Debbie at Llanerch about her passion for these books and what she is doing with the business.


Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints


Digger: Where are you from originally Debbie?

Debbie: Kent. 

Digger: You’ve moved over to the other side of the country. 

Debbie: Yes, ooh, quite some time ago now. About 27 or 28 years ago. 

Digger: You were a ‘woman of Kent’ or a ‘Kentish woman?’ 

Debbie: Yes, from Bromley. 

Digger: Very posh and leafy. 

Debbie: I’m not sure about that. Where are you from? 

Digger: All over the place, really. I’m in Northampton now because my girlfriend comes from here but I started in London, as you can probably detect from my accent, and have been moving up the country since via Essex and Bedfordshire. 

Debbie I can understand you nice and clearly but some people on the phone - I can’t understand their strong accents. 

Digger: Do you find as you get older that it’s harder to understand accents? Or is it just me? 

Debbie: Yes, my husband’s quite good at understanding accents but then he’s lived all over. He’s originally from Worcester. 

Digger: There was a lady on TV talking about ‘porker’ and I thought she was talking about pigs. She was from Newcastle and was talking about the card game poker! I think there’s less ‘BBC English’ on the telly and we’re all moving about a lot more. But accents are a fascination of mine. I would presume it’s something of interest to you too in your line of work? 

Debbie: Yes, yes. 

Digger: So, on with the questions? Can you tell us how (and why) Llanerch Press was formed? 

Debbie: It wasn’t set up by us. It was set up by two guys in the early seventies, both professors, and almost as a retirement type of thing. And it went on from there, really. They started it as a hobby, then they got really interested. One of the guys actually still does a lot of the books for us. He speaks several languages and has done some of the translations from Chinese into English and French into English and Chinese into French and this sort of thing. 

Digger: Clever man. That must be challenging. 

Debbie: He’s a very nice, laid back sort of man and a typical scholar if you like. 

Digger: Would it be fair to say that you put it onto more of a business footing? 

Debbie: Well, we took it over in October 2008 and by then it had run down quite a bit and I think the interest wasn’t there. One of the guys had died by then, the other one had retired totally and somebody else had taken it on board. I don’t think they had the same interest and I think they had it for about five or six years and it went down to a degree. We said if they ever wanted to sell it we would be very interested as a bit of a hobby for ourselves as well but also because we wanted to get involved as we liked the whole idea. My husband’s a printer and has been in the printing trade all of his life. So he knew a bit more about what was involved and that side of things. 

Digger: What’s you area of expertise and interest? 

Debbie: I’m an accountant, actually. 

Digger: You’re totally defying what I was expecting. It’s funny how people have expectations. 

Debbie: What did you think I do? 

Digger: I was assuming that you were from the west of the country and thought you must have some academic and linguistic background. 

Debbie: Not really, but very interested in books. 

Digger: Yes. 

Debbie: I’ve always loved books and the whole idea and I think I’d got to the stage where I’ve had my head buried in accounts and things and I want to get away from that. And this opportunity came up and we said “Yes please.” I don’t think we realised we were going to get it quite as quickly as we did, but in some ways I think we’re very pleased we have. Because now, at least, it hasn’t gone down so much as to not be able to salvage anything. 

Digger: What are your best sellers? 

Debbie: It’s difficult to say, really, because we do a lot of business through the Welsh Books Council and they’re very much any Welsh books. So, when we have had any new Welsh-orientated books they have gone very well by the WBC. But otherwise I wouldn’t like to say. I think a lot of the Saints books have regenerated since we’ve been doing it. But then I can’t say they’re top because the other day I had a big order for all of our Chinese books and there are about eight of those.   


Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints


Digger: So the accountant in you can’t predict stock flows and what’s going to sell? 

Debbie: Not really. What we’re trying to do is to make sure that every book title on our list is back on the shelf, which it wasn’t when we took over. If we can update it, revise it and improve it in any way then we’re doing so. 

Digger: The range and scope of your titles and topics is extremely diverse. Your portfolio of titles is amazing with a number of very specific and detailed works covering the grand events, beliefs, customs, language and characters to the mundane details of ordinary life in these islands over many centuries. 

Debbie: It’s come about, partly I think because of the guys who started it and their interests, but then we’ve had people come up and say “There’s a book we’d like, can you do it, do you do it?” And through the guy who used to own it and his knowledge of things we’ve seen if we can’t bring it back into print by finding permissions and copyright and this sort of thing. And doing it that way with the various books. 

Digger: Do you have any connection with the official archives or The British Library? I understand that The British Library has a copy of every publication ever produced in Britain? 

Debbie: That’s right. You have to do that for the registration purposes of the ISBN. That applies to any book we bring out new and any book we revise in print, in other words it’s a different edition. It’s not just The British Library, we have to send five copies out. 

Digger: You must be the only source for some of these? 

Debbie: Yes, I think we are now. We have resurrected some of them from original books - some of them we’ve got the original copies of. 

Digger: What does The Internet mean to your business? 

Debbie: Quite a lot really. I’m not a great computer person. I’m learning it as we go along and we get a lot of orders via the website. They’re usually only one or two books at a time but those go all over the world now and we’re quite pleased to see how far they do go. And it’s quite interesting. 

Digger: Was the order for Chinese books from China? 

Debbie: Chinatown in London. (Laughs) 

Digger: Oh I see.

Debbie: There’s a big shop in London that sells all sorts of things to do with Chinese art, books and anything like that. 

Digger: I’ve strolled through Chinatown on many occasions but because I like my food was always drawn by the restaurants rather than the bookshop. 

Debbie: I might be the same. 

Digger: Why are you so fascinated by the past? 

Debbie: I think it means a lot to a lot of people. I like our history. I think older history is probably more interesting than modern history. There’s a lot more feeling and caring in the past and I don’t think it’s there today. I think people are too busy getting on with their own lives to appreciate what’s around them, whereas in the past people did appreciate what was around them. 

Digger: And they were at one with it? 

Debbie: Yes. 

Digger: I don’t know if you remember Catweazle, the beautifully written and performed children’s TV programme from 1970 that was also a must for adults? 

Debbie: Yes, I do. 

Digger: That’s what struck me with that programme. He was an eccentric wizard coming forward to the twentieth century from the eleventh century. And although he was like a fish out of water and bumbling and childlike in some ways it almost showed how he was at one with the earth and understood the cycles of nature and so on, whereas the people in the twentieth century were bustling around and relying on technology. And we’ve lost that ability now. People don’t tend to change over the years but obviously it’s technology that is changing at such a pace – you were talking about The Internet and computers and I think we’re struggling to keep up. 

Debbie: I think computers cut out the communication – at the moment you’re talking to me but if it were done with typed words on a computer I don’t think you’d get the right answers or the feel for things. 

Digger: You don’t. Also you can’t get the tone so things on computer can be very badly misinterpreted. I’ve seen several examples of this. Ironically, the more ways we have of communicating the less well we do it. 

Debbie: Yes, and the more unfeeling we do it. 

Digger: What are your favourites within your range?  

Debbie: I’m very pleased with the latest books we’ve added, I think because we’ve spent a lot of time on them. But I love some of the really old Saints books. I find them really fascinating and interesting but I also like the ones on different parts of the country. They’re quite interesting and I keep thinking “Hmm, I really must go there.” 

Digger: That’s good. 

Debbie: It’s like a trip advisor. 

Digger: Based on the various books you’ve got about areas of the country, could you put pins on the map of the UK and cover it? 

Debbie: Probably very closely yes. Also a lot from Ireland. 

Digger: I went back there to Kerry where my family are from about three years ago and where I spent many happy summer holidays. But because all the people like my Nan and uncles and aunts have died and the younger ones moved away, it was just like visiting somewhere strange. It just wasn’t the same place I remembered at all – it was the people who made the place so magical. 

Debbie: Very much so. 

Digger: So do you see yourself as something of a custodian? I mean, a lot of these titles are rare and precious. 

Debbie: Yes, I would like to think that I’m here to make sure these things don’t disappear. If there are other books out there then people will also come to us and say “Can we get this one back?” And I would be more than happy to do it. It’s not a livelihood because there’s not a lot of money in it, so what we’re doing is very much because we have a love of doing it rather than it bringing in an income. It would be nice if it could bring in a sufficient income, but while we’re building it up it’s not. I think our main thing is that we do enjoy doing it. 

Digger: That’s the plan I suppose eventually that enough people know about it. There must be a demand out there, or you can create a demand? 

Debbie: I think so. It’s interesting the comments we’ve had come back. The order I sent out yesterday was for a lady who said she couldn’t believe the titles we’ve got and this is just a private individual who ordered 33 titles out of the catalogue. 

Digger: Wow. 

Debbie: And she was absolutely over the moon and said “That will be my first lot.” She said she’d searched high and low to get some of them. To actually buy a copy of them was amazing for her as she’d only managed to borrow a copy or two from a library. 

Digger: You get a few customers like that and you’ll be doing okay. 

Debbie: Yes, but it’s also appreciation and that means more than her comments meaning we’ll get another four or five orders, or whatever. To me it’s the fact that she’s come back so pleased about it all that it made us feel worthwhile and that’s where I think our interest is. It’s the fact that we’re trying to make sure the books stay alive and out there and people can still read them. They might not be in the best of condition print-wise because they are facsimile reprints of originals but at the same time the story really matters there.

Digger: As long as they’re legible. What are the most unusual topics covered in your range?

Debbie: Some of the mystical ones are a bit weird I think. For me, because it’s something I don’t delve into too much, I find it quite hard to understand. 

Digger: You don’t need to be a linguist to read a lot of them? I mean they’re in a form of English that we can understand? 

Debbie: We’ve only got one that isn’t in English at all and that’s in Gaelic, so if you know anyone who wants a Gaelic book you can ask them to read it for us and tell us what it’s about. 

Digger: My Irish uncle wrote a book about Kerry, probably the same sort of format as your books, but that was in English. 

Debbie: This one - it was printed by the original owner of Llanerch purely because he was approached if he would print it for them and they wanted fifty copies so he said yes. He did it and then they didn’t take all of them. So he was left with a few and we still have a few left. We sold one. 

Digger: It adds to the diversity of what you’ve got. 

Debbie: Yes I just love them all really. We lost a couple of books because we lost the copyright on them. 

Digger: Who was making that into an issue for you? 

Debbie: The Cambridge University Press. What they’re going to do about it I’ve no idea. 

Digger: It’s probably their lawyers or legal department just following guidelines. 

Debbie: To me it wasn’t a big seller and since we’ve had it we’ve probably sold 7 or 8 copies and they’ve taken it away. Now I can’t see why – what are they going to do with it? We were just in the process of trying to revamp the cover and make it better and they’ve taken it away. 

Digger: It’s one of life’s ironies that you’ve got the Cambridge University Press, who should be keen on cultural enlightenment and making the written word more accessible, making it impossible to sell a few of these titles. I’ve had this before with organizations who purport to be interested in promoting something and who actually make it less likely to be a success. 

Debbie: I think it’s a shame. If they are going to bring them out again and do them then fair enough, but it worries me that they’re just going to take them away. 

Digger: Yes, and let them languish on some shelf and nobody will be able to get hold of it. 

Debbie: We sent the royalties to them at the end of the year and they decided the term was up for us to have the printing rights and decided not to renew. 

Digger: It will be a clerk who doesn’t know or understand and is there to follow guidelines rigidly. Do you give any recommendations if people are interested in delving into a particular subject or era? 

Debbie: Not necessarily. We have improved the catalogue – I don’t know if you’ve seen it? 

Digger: Yes I looked at the website again the other day, so was I looking at the new catalogue? 

Debbie: Yes, and we have people who don’t go through the website and just look through the catalogue It’s very difficult for me to recommend books because I haven’t had time to read them all. And I think because they are so diverse that it’s difficult for me to say I’d recommend reading this or that. Although, saying that, I had one person asking me what books we had around the 400 B.C. mark. He said send me a catalogue and he’ll let me know if he finds some, but he hasn’t got back to me yet.   


Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints


Digger: What plans have you got for Llanerch Press in the future? 

Debbie: Certainly to progress as we’re doing now because we feel as though we’re improving it. Improving the look of the books and of the website and to push that more. And to look out for more titles and make it clear that if people want to approach us and have books printed then we’re very willing to consider doing them. It’s not something that we have, as yet, charged to do. 

Digger: Hopefully it can start generating more income as well? 

Debbie: Yes, the ultimate plan would be for me to do it full time but at the moment I can’t do that. 

Digger: Does that mean you’re doing number-crunching for someone at other times of the week? 

Debbie: Yes, I’m not always available – I try but it’s not always easy. And partly because, yes, we’ve had to plough in a fair amount of money into Llanerch to get it up and going. We still pride ourselves that the books are all still handmade. How long we can keep that going for we’re not sure, but we do it by hand my husband and I. Getting the old pots of glue out. I think that’s all part of it. 

Digger: It’s a fantastic business and I was really surprised when I found the website and saw the different titles available. How much scope there was and that they covered such a range of topics, not dreaming there was anything like that. That’s why I thought The British Library might have some online presence with books like that but I didn’t expect to see a small business in Wales doing that. 

Debbie: Because we have them all registered with The British Library for copyright purposes we have contacts there. 

Digger: I think they should be paying you a fee each year just for the cultural contribution that you’re making. In my humble opinion. 

Debbie: (Both laugh) That would be nice. At the moment it’s one-way traffic the other way and we keep having to give them free books. And it’s for all the libraries – Welsh, Scottish, Oxford, Irish – there’s six of them. I am now sending them individually because otherwise they ask for six copies and say they’ll send them on to the others but a couple of weeks later the other libraries are on the phone saying they haven’t had a copy yet. 

Digger: It costs you in materials, time and postage. 

Debbie: When you’re printing quite small runs it can have quite an effect  but we’re hoping some day we’ll get something back – something out of it. 

Digger: What goes round definitely comes round. Well, Debbie, it’s been fascinating so thank you very much. It’s great to talk to people who have got a passion about what they do. That’s one of the main things that I enjoy about running this website – talking to people like you. 

Debbie: Thanks David. Great talking to you.


Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints

Llanerch Press - Publishers of Ancient Texts and Facsimile Reprints

Anglo Saxon Interest . Archery . Celtic Interest . Daoism & Chinese Literature . Lives of Saints . Mediaeval History . Music . Mysticism & Alchemy . Northern Interest . Other Folklore

If you need to reach us, please call on +44 (0)1278 781278. You can of course write to us at:

Llanerch Press & Publishers,
Little Court,
48 Rectory Road,






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