Cover Stories: green anniversary; reading maps; Spanish quartet; Mullin's diaries

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The Independent Culture

In 1988, the height of Yuppie consumerism, the idea of a publishing house devoted to environmental issues was whacky indeed. Now, as Earthscan "part of the DNA of intelligent environmentalism" according to Professor Bill Adams of Cambridge celebrates its 20th anniversary, the company seems almost mainstream, its agenda totally in accord with political, business and personal agendas. Bloomsbury was happy to publish the latest opus from Al Gore, but it was Earthscan that released his first environmental outing, Earth in the Balance, Earthscan that published Jonathon Porritt's Capitalism: As If the World Matters and Chris Goodall's How to Live a Low-Carbon Life. Publishing chief execs may worry about swapping the Jag for a Lexus and turning down the thermostat, but Earthscan has always practised what it preached. And with 900 titles in the backlist, the company remains the ultimate green resource and continues to set the agenda. Happy birthday.

We'd had a history of the OED and, of course, a history of longitude. Now rather overdue comes a history of the Ordnance Survey Map, the first complete, accurate and affordable map of the British Isles. Map of a Nation, bought by Granta, will be written by Rachel Hewitt, a historian who gained her doctorate last year with a thesis on the subject. The book is promised to be "a deliciously readable account of a great untold British adventure story", as Hewitt examines "the political complexities of cartography and its links to surveillance and colonialism".

Another move that shows why publishers sometimes find it quite so difficult not to stick to tried and tested talent: Orion has bought four bestselling young-adult novels from the Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It's easy to see why the books were hard to resist: between them, Prince of the Mists, Midnight Palace, September Light and Marina have nearly three million copies in print in Spain. The author's adult title, The Shadow of the Wind, has sold two million copies in English and 10 million worldwide. Zafón's second novel The Angel's Game, a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, will be published here by Weidenfeld next September.

In what could be the most illuminating account yet of the Blair years, Chris Mullin has sold his diaries to Profile Books. MD Andrew Franklin calls it "Alan Clark meets Yes Minister" and says Mullin is one of the few politicians who can actually write. Publication is set for March 2009.

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