Friday, 9 December 2016

Spotlight on: Ian Bayley, Head of Sabrestorm Publishing

A selection of books published by Sabrestorm Publishing

Ian Bayley, the dynamic head of Sabrestorm Publishing, talks about his life and work

Ian Bayley, Sabrestorm Publishing
Ian Bayley, Sabrestorm Publishing

I started my career as a commercial photographer in London’s Covent Garden working for many of the small advertising agencies there. As time progressed, I found myself being far more involved in graphic design and after some formal qualifications found myself working in a design office. Having a background in both of these areas has been useful in publishing and helped me to produce some beautiful books. 

I have a great interest in history with 1940s Britain being a particular passion and have been involved with a number of re-enactment groups in the past. I set up the 1940s Society some 17 years ago and I’m pleased to say it is still going strong. I do enjoy all things vintage and have a 1935 Austin 12 motor car which I don’t get out to drive as much as I would like to.

Ian Bayley and his 1935 Austin 12
Ian Bayley and his 1935 Austin 12

Through my interest in history, I have a large library of books. I was already selling books before Sabrestorm came into being but was often frustrated by what was available. Either the information I wanted wasn’t there or if it was, it wasn’t in a very readable or accessible form. I decided to bite the bullet and start publishing my own. The first book was The 1940s Look by Mike Brown.  This is a book that I am delighted to have produced and which has gone on to create a series with The 1950s look and, just published, The 1960s Look.

The 1950s Look by Mike Brown, published by Sabrestorm Publishing

Although Sabrestorm publishes books about the 1920s to the 1960s, the company particularly specialises in the 1940s because I have a particular interest in the era. It was where I was familiar and saw a need. The subject area of books we publish has broadened to cover history, vintage and fashion and they fit together very nicely.


Parachute Doctor by Neil Barber, published by Sabrestorm PublishingPublishing is really satisfying. Meeting authors,veterans and people who were actually part of history is fantastic. To take a manuscript, story or an experience and make it accessible to everyone in a form that is easy to digest and enjoyable to read is a privilege. There are accounts and experiences that should be remembered and learned from, not just of the high and mighty but of everyday people. Fighting for the Empire and Parachute Doctor are two examples where there were stories about individuals whose contributions should be remembered. There is nothing quite like working on a book for six months or a year and finally opening up a parcel to see the first advance copy of the final book. It’s just as exciting every time.

Internal layout from The 1960s Look by Mike Brown, published by Sabrestorm Publishing
I have to like the subject and it has to fit in with our other titles. Most importantly the author and I have to be able to have a good working relationship. A book is a collaborative effort and the author and publisher need to work closely together to get the best result. Our books are generally heavily illustrated in colour, have a strong design element and are a pleasure to read. Our aim is to make Sabrestorm's books as good as they can be.

Doing Their Bit by Jon Mills, published by Sabrestorm Publishing
Some of our books are very niche such as Doing Their Bit by Jon Mills, which will appeal to a very particular collector or enthusiast. Most,, however will appeal to anyone with an interest in history. It's really interesting to talk to readers who have been given a book as a present and are surprised and delighted by how much they enjoyed it and learned from it.

Ebooks have made traditional publishing more challenging. I read ebooks as well as traditional books and very much appreciate they have a place. Our books tend to be very heavily illustrated and in colour, which makes ebook production all the more challenging. However, this is something we will be moving forward with in 2017. I, like many others, still buy traditional books when they are heavily illustrated and attractive. Some books are just better to read in printed form.

I love publishing books and hope to grow the number of titles we have available. We are very selective in what we publish and at a time when so much is being published both on-line and privately, I want to ensure that our books are always of the highest quality and can be relied upon to be an informative, enjoyable and reliable read. I’m looking forward to the next ten years!  Sabrestorm Publishing

Ian Bayley was talking to Penny Legg.