Last night, Axel Scheffler, Catherine Stokes from Bounce, Camilla, Adrian and I went to The Book Industry Awards at the London Hilton Hotel. It’s a fairly swanky bash, actually, particularly for those of us whose work attire these days is a tiny step up from pyjamas: an evening-dress dinner for hundreds and hundreds of publishers, booksellers, agents, librarians, authors and illustrators. This year Mariella Frostrup (funny, relevant to the industry, beautiful and tiny) compered.
We were highly commended in the “exceptionally closely fought” Independent Publisher of the Year category. The judges said, “Nosy Crow had another year of huge sales growth and digital innovation cementing its place as one of the most notable start-ups of recent years. This was the year it established itself as a trusted publishing brand”. They described our achievements as “awe-inspiring”. The category was won by Canongate, where I happened to start my career 28 years ago. For Nosy Crow to be highly commended after just three years of publishing is really great. It’s a terrific tribute to the Nosy Crow team, our authors and illustrators, and the support of our UK and international customers. And the judges don’t mess about: there were 22 awards, and only one other highly commended and a single pair of joint winners.
Frankly, I’d be even more chipper about the whole thing if I hadn’t thought for a minute (and, to be fair, this misapprehension was shared by other people too) that we had won the award, and so I began to stagger, astonished, with no speech prepared, to the stage. When the fact that Canongate had actually won the award was announced, I had to drop swiftly to the floor and commando crawl across the front of the ballroom in my long dress and heels to an empty seat at a table next to the stage, and then grin and clap like crazy to try to suggest that I’d just wanted a front-row view of Canongate’s managing director accepting the prize. The subsequent commiseration of friends and a big glass of white wine only partly cooled the combined heat of shame and carpet-burns.
We were also shortlisted for the Children’s Publisher of the Year Award. Given our scale and youth, just being shortlisted was terrific: the other publishers on the list – HarperCollins (who won), Penguin, Dorling Kindersley, Egmont, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Usborne and Walker Books – are all hugely bigger and decades older than we are.
I spent last weekend in my home city, Edinburgh, so perhaps my antennae were particularly attuned, but it was good to see three organisations with close ties to Edinburgh up on the stage getting prizes: Canongate, The Edinburgh Bookshop and Midlothian Library Service.
In an event that’s always dominated by adult books, this was also a pretty good year for children’s books. In addition to our own high commendation, Vineeta Gupta and Zosia Knopp work exclusively on books for children; Pan Macmillan’s prize was for their publication of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture books; and Midlothian Library Service’s children’s events programme was key to their win.
The full list of the 23 winners is here:
Young Retailer of the Year: Rachael Wing, The Wallingford Bookshop
Editor of the Year: Helen Conford, Penguin Press (and Vineeta Gupta of Oxford University Press was highly commended)
Manager of the Year: Paul Thornton, Blackwell’s Bookshop
Rights Professional of the Year (joint winners) Andrea Joyce, Canongate Books and Zosia Knopp, Penguin
Literary Agent of the Year: Caroline Dawnay of United Agents
Independent Bookshop of the year: Dulwich Books, London
Library of the Year: Midlothian Library Service
Children’s Bookseller of the Year: The Edinburgh Bookshop
The BA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade: Dame Gail Rebuck for the marketing campaign, Books Are My Bag
Publicity Campaign of the Year: Ben Willis, Headline for The Silent Wife
Supply Chain Innovation Award: NetGalley
Marketing Strategy of the Year: Gone Girl, Orion Publishing Group
Digital Strategy of the Year: Faber & Faber
E-Book Retailer of the Year: e-books by Sainsbury’s
Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year: Bloomsbury Academic & Professional
Independent Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year: Edward Elgar Publishing (and Bright Red Publishing was Highly Commended)
Imprint of the Year: Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House
Children’s Publisher of the Year: HarperCollins
Independent Publisher of the Year: Canongate (and Nosy Crow was highly commended)
The Bookseller Special Award: Pan Macmillan for sales of The Gruffalo and other books by Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson (It was cheering to see this, given all my years at both Macmillan Children’s Books and Scholastic spent publishing Axel and Julia, and huge congratulations go to them, of course, for making the books in the first place.)
Book Retailer of the Year: Blackwell’s
Publisher of the Year: Little, Brown Book Group
Congratulations to the winners, and a mix of congratulations and commiserations to the shortlisted individuals and organisations. And thanks to the event organisers,The Bookseller, whose take on the event you can read here.