The Folio Society is a small independent publisher with a brand that punches well above its weight. We publish exquisite, illustrated editions of the world’s most loved books, and we sell them directly (online) to an international audience. Folio is an unusual combination of craft bookmaking, and data-led, direct-to-consumer marketing–and the mix is a thrilling one.

This last year has seen Folio hit the milestone of 75 years of publishing, and it has transformed since I started as publishing director eight years ago–from the business model, to the ownership structure, right down to the offices themselves. It is a privilege to be part of that continuous thread, but for me the challenge–and the fun of it–is in keeping Folio forward-looking, progressive, and relevant to new audiences.

Having been owned by the Gavron family since the early 1980s, in the last year Folio made the shift to becoming an Employee Owned Trust (EOT), whereby the business is owned equally by the people who work in it. This keeps Folio independent, and has focused us all on our mission to create the world’s finest books. The process of making a Folio book is a joyful one, and we have a team that cares about every detail, working with illustrators, designers, cutting-edge technicians, and traditional craftspeople in order to achieve it.

The industry is going through a golden period of book design, and to be at the forefront of that is a welcome challenge as well as a privilege. Our recent wins at the British Book Design and Production Awards not only showed the range and depth of our publishing but how we can innovate and stretch the possibilities of the printed book.

We are an international publisher and our biggest market is now the U.S.. We find our customers digitally, and sell to them directly and exclusively through our website, controlling all aspects of the delivery chain. That allows us to have a direct relationship with our readers and to access deep wells of cult fandom. This has also created a big shift in our demographic appeal: 25- to 45-year-olds now make up almost half of our audience.

In recent years we have been exploring science fiction and fantasy, horror, thrillers, and romance, alongside the literary canon. Our upcoming list for summer, for example, includes classics by Mark Twain and Dodie Smith, alongside new editions of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting; Jhumpa Lahiri’s amazing short-story collection, Interpreter of Maladies; and Carlo Rovelli’s poetry of physics, The Order of Time.

Folio is increasingly ambitious in its drive to publish the world’s biggest literary estates and authors, but publishing a high-profile list brings with it a responsibility to update the definition of what a classic work is. We work with an increasingly diverse range of contributors across our publishing program, and in this last year we have published authors ranging from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Zora Neale Hurston; introducers from Kwame Dawes to Walter Mosley; and illustrators from Diana Ejaita to Unyime Edet.

Alongside our core list we have developed a highly successful range of limited editions. In the last few years that imprint has gained a cult-like status of its own, with the editions regularly selling out within days, sometimes even hours. From The Lord of the Rings and Dune, to Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the range is now as broad as our core list. This coming autumn we are publishing a spectacular edition of The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare, the binding of which is being woven in Sussex as I write!

Perhaps paradoxically for a 75-year-old business, Folio is always looking forward. We are committed to creating a sustainable business and we’re determined to have fun along the way, keeping the flame of publishing books of craft and beauty alive.

Tom Walker is publishing director of The Folio Society.