International Awards for a Global Book Industry

In Discussion by Roger Tagholm

Nominations for the second annual London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards, which are offered in 13 categories, are now open.

By Roger Tagholm

Jacks Thomas at the awards this year.

Jacks Thomas at the awards this year.

Arguably there couldn’t be a better moment for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards, which it runs in association with the UK Publishers Association. The industry feels more international than ever before. Yes, there have pretty much always been global author brands, but back in the Seventies say, the structure of the industry was more fragmented, with far fewer multinational houses. That began to change in earnest in the Eighties and Nineties and has continued ever since, with multinational conglomerates the order of the day (though admittedly, a good few independents have emerged, too).

Then, of course, the Internet and digital has led to more global thinking. In a digital world, the local is global and vice versa. To paraphrase the famous phrase: an ebook shaking its wings for publication in New York can have an effect on the industry on the other side of the world. Interviews with authors in one country’s newspaper can be pinged and linked instantly around the world. Decisions taken in a local head office can have global implications. A pricing change can send out an instant, far-reaching, detectable change in purchasing decisions.

Consumer behavior has become international, too. UK publishers talk about the need to become ‘source agnostic.’ A consumer in Lyons, France, or in Sydney Australia may choose to buy a title from their local bookstore, or they may choose to go to a Net retailer like the Book Depository. Which is partly why publishers place more attention on social media marketing now – it doesn’t matter where the sale is made as long as it is their book.

The inexorable spread of the English language adds to this globalization too; throw in You Tube and Twitter and borders are becoming less relevant, with the young (and not so young) almost occupying a whole new universe – one in which the only borders are the edges of whatever screen they are looking at.

Industry conferences are more international than they used to be too. The global book trade is talking to each other more than ever before. Publishers and related companies are thinking more internationally. All of which means that the LBF International Excellence Awards are long overdue.

The awards began at the LBF earlier this year and will return at the fair’s new home at Olympia in April 2015. LBF Director Jacks Thomas says: “The prizes represent a significant step change for us. The fair has always been an international event, but with global even more at its heart, it was realized that a set of awards was needed to acknowledge both this and the fact that publishing itself – thanks to the Internet and digitization – is more international than ever. These awards provide a showcase for what publishing looks like now, and give a glimpse of what it could and will look like in years to come.”

The awards cover 13 categories, from academic and trade publishing, to copyright protection, literary translation and book industry technology. They are judged by panels of experts in each field, selected by the LBF and the PA for their industry-specific knowledge or international experience.

Publishing Perspectives covered an Australian charitable body, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which takes books to remote communities. The ILF collected the International Education Initiative at the inaugural awards. Do you know a company or individual operating internationally that is outstanding in their field? Do you know of an organization doing something innovative or special in a particular territory? Now is your chance to help them receive the recognition they deserve. Next year’s awards take place at the London Book Fair on Tuesday, 14 April at Olympia and you can vote by following this link www.londonbookfair.co.uk/awards.

About the Author

Roger Tagholm

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Roger Tagholm is based in London and has been writing about the book industry for more than 20 years. He is the former Deputy Editor of Publishing News and the author of Walking Literary London (New Holland) and Poems NOT on the Underground (Windrush Press).