Rewarding Top-Selling Titles: 42 Titles on the ‘Nibbies’ Books of the Year Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

An illustrator and author of the year are to be added to the ‘Nibbies’ already in place for the content side of the British Book Awards (as opposed to industry awards). Shortlists are here, with the winners announced May 14.

In Bath, England. Image – iStockphoto: A Wilms

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘The Year When a Lot Worked’

In announcing the many shortlists for the British Book Awards’ Books of the Year, The Bookseller’s editor Philip Jones has referred to writings of “true range, breadth, and brilliance … from the unexpected triumphs to the brand juggernauts.”

And Bookseller publisher Nigel Roby writes of “recognizing all the elements that contribute to a healthy book trade and ensuring that more books reach more readers.”

The Books of the Year awards are open to books published in English in the UK and Ireland over the course of last year. There are no author nationality restrictions, and translations are eligible.

The judges “regard sales success as imperative,” according to the awards criteria. Sales, in combination with literary merit, distinctiveness, and the publishing strategy behind the title, will all be taken into account when choosing the winner.

The fact that the “Nibbies” now include these literary awards is relatively new. The British Book Awards were “evolved,” as the Booker folks like to say, last year, bringing together what had been the British Book Industry Awards and the British Book Awards for the first time since 2004.

The gratifying result is a very big round of nominees across seven categories and a rightful recognition that, if readers haven’t been carried off entirely by Netflix, Amazon Studios, and the BBC, they’re looking only for a good book to read.

“In 2017, the British book trade was valued at £1.6 billion. It was the year when a lot worked.”Philip Jones

And in his prepared statement, Jones is quoted, saying, “In a year that was marked by notable instances of event-publishing, some stand-out new names, and the return to form of some greats, there was also evidence of a broadening of the market, with debuts from Angie Thomas, Gill Sims and Gail Honeyman mixing it with the fiction blockbusters and the nonfiction giants.

“The Books of the Year shortlists reflect the strength and industry of a sector that can be both happy and challenged. In 2017, the British book trade was valued at £1.6 billion (US$2.2 billion). It was the year when a lot worked.”

In addition to the following shortlisted titles, the program this year is to include what’s described as “an author and illustrator who have achieved outstanding commercial success alongside making a genuine contribution to the general health of the book world.” In regards to this development, Roby is quoted, saying, “Having an award for author of the year makes absolute sense. Similarly, illustrators are a vital part of expanding book readership, especially among young readers, and should be recognized.”

The category winners are to be decided by seven panels of judges, and a separate panel will go on to choose the overall book of the year from the seven category winners

Fiction Book of the Year

  • The Break by Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)
  • Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Hutchinson/Windmill)
  • Winter by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (Canongate)
  • Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (Fourth Estate)
  • City of Friends by Joanna Trollope (Mantle)

Debut Book of the Year

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Viking)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Harper Fiction)
  • Sirens by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)
  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
  • Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims (HarperCollins)
  • My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (HarperCollins)

Crime & Thriller Book of the Year

  • The Midnight Line by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
  • The Girl Before by JP Delaney (Quercus)
  • The Dry by Jane Harper (Abacus)
  • Spook Street by Mick Herron (John Murray)
  • He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (Mulholland)
  • Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins)

Children’s Book of the Year

  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books)
  • Oi Cat! by Kes Gray, Jim Field (Illus.) (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris (Illus.) (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman, Chris Wormell (Illus.) (David Fickling books in assoc. with Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
  • Bad Dad by David Walliams (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Non-fiction: Lifestyle Book of the Year

  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand (Bluebird)
  • Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day and Letting Go of Perfect by Fearne Cotton (Orion Spring)
  • 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph)
  • The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories & 100 Essential Recipes for Midwinter by Nigel Slater (HarperCollins)
  • The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim (Penguin Life)
  • Cooking for Family and Friends by Joe Wicks (Bluebird)

Non-fiction: Narrative Book of the Year

  • What Does This Button Do? By Bruce Dickinson (Harper Non-Fiction)
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • This is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay (Picador)
  • I AM, I AM, I AM: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)
  • Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space by Tim Peake (Century)
  • The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young (Faber & Faber)

Audiobook Book of the Year (new this year)

  •  Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrator: Stephen Fry (Audible)
  • The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney, Narrators: Emilia Fox, Finty Williams, Lise Aagaard Knudsen (Quercus)
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Narrator: Cathleen McCarron (HarperCollins)
  • La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman, Narrator: Michael Sheen (Penguin Random House UK Audio)
  • Kid Normal by Greg James and Chris Smith, Narrators: Greg James and Chris Smith (W F Howes/Nudged Audiobooks)
  • How Not To  Be a Boy by Robert Webb, Narrator: Robert Webb (Audible Studio)

The category winners will be decided by seven panels of judges, and a separate panel will go on to choose the overall Book of the Year. The category winners and the Book of the Year will be revealed at a glamorous awards ceremony on Monday 14 May at Grosvenor House in central London which will bring together authors, publishers, booksellers and literary agents for a night celebrating the entire book industry.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.