Shire Books

Last updated
Shire Books
Parent company Bloomsbury Publishing
Founded 1962 (1962)
Founder John Rotheroe
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location London
Publication types Books
Official website

Shire Books are published by Bloomsbury Publishing, a book publishing company based in London, England, and formerly by Shire Publications Ltd. and Osprey Publishing. Shire offers low priced, concise non-fiction paperbacks on a wide range of subjects. Shire books cover antiques and collectables, motoring and rural history, archaeology and Egyptology, architecture, industrial history and many other topics.

Bloomsbury Publishing plc is a British independent, worldwide publishing house of fiction and non-fiction. It is a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index. Bloomsbury's head office is located in Bloomsbury, an area of the London Borough of Camden. It has a US publishing office located in New York City, an India publishing office in New Delhi, an Australia sales office in Sydney CBD and other publishing offices in the UK including at Oxford. The company's growth over the past two decades is primarily attributable to the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling and, from 2008, to the development of its academic and professional publishing division. The Bloomsbury Academic & Professional division won the Bookseller Industry Award for Academic, Educational & Professional Publisher of the Year in both 2013 and 2014.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.


Founded in 1962 by John Rotheroe, the company was for many years based in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire. The first book published by Shire was Discovering East Suffolk, a 24-page guide to the county through a series of five motoring routes and a gazetteer of the main towns and villages. It was given away to visitors via coach operators, local churches and tourist information points. The book was successful and when it was realized that many of the copies given away were being resold it was decided to sell the second edition, and this set the template for the future of Shire. [1]

Princes Risborough town and civil parish in Buckinghamshire, England

Princes Risborough is a small town in Buckinghamshire, England, about 9 miles south of Aylesbury and 8 miles north west of High Wycombe. Bledlow lies to the west and Monks Risborough to the east. It lies at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, at the north end of a gap or pass through the Chilterns, the south end of which is at West Wycombe. The A4010 road follows this route from West Wycombe through the town and then on to Aylesbury.

Buckinghamshire County of England

Buckinghamshire, abbreviated Bucks, is a county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.

Over the following years Shire expanded its Discovering series and launched several new series including Lifelines, Shire Albums, [2] Shire Archaeology, and Shire Egyptology. [1]

2007 onwards

In 2007 the company was acquired by Oxford-based military history publisher Osprey and operated from Osprey's offices in Oxford. [1]

Osprey Publishing is an Oxford-based publishing company specializing in military history. Predominantly an illustrated publisher, many of their books contain full-colour artwork plates, maps and photographs, and the company produces over a dozen ongoing series, each focusing on a specific aspect of the history of warfare. Osprey has published over 2,300 books. They are best known for their Men-at-Arms series, running to over 500 titles, with each book dedicated to a specific historical army or military unit. Osprey is an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing.

During 2008 Shire began a revamp of its list. It was announced that several former Shire series (including Life Lines, Shire Garden History and History in Camera) would be absorbed into a new series called Shire Library, which would retain and expand on the numbering system used by the old Album series, which has long formed the backbone of the Shire Library. Books in the Shire Library were to have a new series cover design, as would reissued books in the Archaeology and Egyptology series. [1]

It was further announced that Shire's list of forthcoming publications would include an increased number of new titles, as well as reissues of out-of-print titles, and new editions of existing titles.

In December 2010 Osprey Publishing, along with all the Shire titles, was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing. [3]

Further reading

John Rotheroe, Thirty Years of Shire Publications: A Bibliography for Collectors of Shire Books, Shire Publications, 1992.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "About Shire". Shire Publications (archived version of Archived from the original on October 2, 2015.
  2. "The Shire Albums (Shire Publications)". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  3. "Corporate History". 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2016.