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La Serranía Books

This independent publishing house in Ronda has managed to become become one of the leading publishers of walking guides in Spain thanks to the hard work of natural-born editor José Manuel Dorado. Delve into the Andalusian countryside with a helping hand from La Serranía Books.

By:  Lakshmi I. Aguirre
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Independent book publisher
Birth: 2003
Location: Ronda
Stands out for: their comprehensive catalogue of hiking guides
Did you know? they were the first Spanish publishers to include GPS coordinates in their guide books

There is much talk and speculation about the future for Spanish publishers. Publishing houses currently find themselves at a crossroads: The digital publishing revolution and classic print media seem to be taking the industry in divergent directions. Sometimes it seems as if the market has already made its decision and is following the lead of the bigger brands. While it’s impossible to stop technological progress, one has to wonder whether the next generation is necessarily going to choose digital media over print. Small independent publishers are slowly adapting to the new demands of the market and are proving that print media still has a lot to say.

La Serranía Books hasn’t just decided to invest in the latter, although much of their content is later uploaded to the latest GPS technology. Much of their content aludes to subjects that are distinctly detached from the latest technological inventions: the earth, environment and history. These days no self-respecting Andalusian hiker’s library is complete without at least one of their publications. This Ronda-based company is taking big strides in the field of nature guides.

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What started out as a catalogue of books about the mountainous area in and around Ronda, has over time turned into a range of titles devoted to the mountains and natural parks of Andalusia. Hikers and writers living in the area are charged with describing the terrain and guiding readers via informative guides that unveil hidden secrets that are a treasure trove for ramblers. This was the original goal of José Manuel Dorado and his team when they set out on this arduous journey in 2003: “It’s not just about giving directions. We want our readers to leave with an in-depth understanding of the area through which they are walking: its history, heritage and the people that live there. Aside from being walking guides, these are guides to the nature and heritage of each of the areas we cover”.

Their most popular titles include: Walking in the Ronda Mountains, Parque Natural de los Alcornocales, Sierra de las Nieves, Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Sierra de Mijas, Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, Valle del Guadiaro and Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche. You’ll also find guides to the Parque Natural de Doñana and Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama in their catalogue. In putting together each and every one, La Serranía Books works closely with hikers, town halls and rural development organizations throughout Andalusia.

While walking guides are their principal output, La Serranía Books also produces collections including a series of books entitled Boissier that focuses its attention on mycology, ornithology and botany. Setas y cocina para principiantes (Mushrooms and cooking for beginners), Guía de campo de las orquídeas silvestres de Andalucía (Field guide to wild orchids in Andalusia), Paseos por las aves de las Serranía de Ronda (Guide to the birds of the Serranía of Ronda) are just some of the titles that feature in the collection. The Alforja collection is dedicated to what Dorado calls “Romantic travellers: travellers from the 18th and 19th centuries who wrote about their travels in various books”. Contemporary writers including Alastair Boyd have also found a place in this collection. Last, but not least, Serranía Books has published several books about the history and heritage of Ronda and the surrounding mountains including Takurunna and Studia historica. The latter includes findings from doctoral theses that have been awarded by the Royal School of Cavalry in Ronda.

As founder of La Serranía Books, José Manuel Dorado was awarded the 2008 Royal School of Cavalry in Ronda Medal by King Juan Carlos I of Spain for his “extraordinary work collecting, editing and promoting the culture and landscape of the mountains of Ronda”. The award served as recognition of his ceaseless work. Dorado has also received the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves Award (2005), Bastón Senderista del Año Award (2006) and La Serranía Books was recognized as the best business initiative in the Serranía of Ronda in 2006.

The work conducted by this publishing house in Ronda has also inspired many a visit to the natural parks of Andalusia. José Manuel Dorado expresses it clearly: “We wanted to raise environmental awareness amongst readers: respect is born out of understanding”. Since mass tourism can negatively affect the natural world, one of their ultimate aims is the protection of the environment. “Thanks to our guide books we’ve managed to diversify hiking routes”. For example, the guide to Cazorla highlights fifty hiking paths scattered throughout the entire area “many of them in relatively unknown sectors. In this way we hope to diversify the current alternatives for hikers to lessen the impact of hikers for the environment”. Dorado stresses: “It’s impossible to conserve things if people don’t value them”.

Having produced titles about the main natural parks in the region La Serranía Books is a leader in its sector in Andalusia. “It’s just a matter of time” before they expand their coverage to the whole country, explains director Dorado. Entrepreneur and artisan with an innate talent, Dorado is taking his publishing house beyond Ronda to compete in the vertiginous national market. Accompanied by these guides, hikers are in safe hands, while the adventurous spirit of the La Serranía Books can be felt in each and every word they print.



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