About Ransom Publishing

Who are Ransom?

It all started with a cat…

Cat Reading

20 years ago, a man who had been convicted for kidnapping, smuggled a cat into his ex-offenders hostel. The staff of the hostel, realising that they could not keep the cat, announced that they were “holding it for ransom,” until a new owner had been found. 

This new owner appeared in the form of Jenny Ertle, one of the founders of Ransom Publishing. Forward to a business convention, where Jenny and her business partner Steve Rickard listened to a talk on why you run a company. One of the reasons that was listed was having the company as the family business, and with their lack of children to leave the business to, Steve declared, “We’ll just have to leave it to the cat.”

And thus, in honour of Ransom the cat, Ransom Publishing was born.

Why reluctant readers?


For the first decade, Ransom was a multimedia company, releasing things such as talking books software. Towards the end of this first decade, they decided that they wanted to return to the business of books, but weren’t entirely sure how they wanted to approach this. Then when they were at a book fair, they found their answer. They were presenting an A-Z book when somebody asked if they had any content at that simple level, but for older readers. Upset and shocked by the fact that older readers needed such content, and the fact that nobody was supplying it, they made it their mission to make this content. The next year was spent trying to come up with the best possible way to achieve this; until an encounter with horror author Peter Lancett gave Jenny an idea. And thus Dark Man, the first Ransom series with a high interest age but low reading age, came into existence. 

Ransom now


20 years on, Ransom are still going strong, with Steve and Jenny still working tirelessly at the helm. We still firmly believe that all young people, no matter their reading ability, should have books that capture their interests and appeal to their needs. Our high-low reading books have gone on to fill a gap that needed filling, and have helped many struggling and reluctant readers find titles that are age appropriate, unpatronising, and visually appealing books. We’ve won various awards, including the Educational Resources Award in 2006, a Gold award for our Reading Stars reading programme, and a Carnegie Medal nomination for our recent title Connor’s Brain by Malcolm Rose.

Because of our mission to give all young people content that is appropriate for their level and interests, we’ve now branched out into other ventures too, including book banded reading programmes, and Raven: an imprint that publishes exciting, contemporary reads for young adults.

Ransom Office

Although an ironically named cat is a distant memory now, it's quirkiness remains firmly embedded in our company, based in a quaint little office in the South of England. Our team are relatively small, but we hope that we can make a big impact. Our strong relationship with local universities such as the University of Southampton and University of Winchester mean that we often have student interns floating in and out, and they, along with the office dogs Scrabble and Wookie, and Jenny and Steve’s sons, make for an office filled with life, despite its size. 

Ransom are dedicated to our vision, and will continue to be for years to come.