British Book Awards Include Political Commentary Amid Celebration

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The ‘Nibbies,’ as they’re known, combined their usual glamour with political commentary about Brexit as the industry’s best-performing people and books were honored at the British Book Awards.

At The Bookseller’s 2018 British Book Awards on May 14. Image: Ines Bachor

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Award-Winning Book People Bash Brexit

The second time is the charm for the Quarto Group’s foreign sales director, Karine Marko, who has been named Rights Professional of the Year at The Bookseller’s British Book Awards ceremony at Grosvenor House in London this evening (May 14).

Shortlisted last year as well as this year, Marko is the 2018 recipient of the award, which is sponsored by the Frankfurter Buchmesse each year at the “Nibbies,” as they’re known. The choice of that sponsorship, of course, is a reflection of the centricity of the Literary Agents & Scouts Center, the “LitAg,” already sold out for this year at the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 10-14).

A moment of publishing and politics occurred during the evening when the newly added Illustrator of the Year award was given to the Hamburg-born Axel Scheffler, one of the most highly acclaimed illustrators working in the UK today. He told the audience that because of Brexit and its many still undecided effects, he cannot be sure that he’ll be able to continue living and working in England, as he’s done since 1982, when he moved from Germany to go to the Bath Academy of Art.

The impending exit of the UK from the European Union was on the mind of the other winner as well. When bestselling author Philip Pullman took the podium to accept the new Author of the Year Award, he too, spoke out against Brexit. Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust has been a major success for Penguin Random House Children’s, and the next volume in the series is to be released in 2019.

In other issue-driven moments, Canongate author Matt Haig—whose 2015 book Reasons to Stay Alive is a memoir based on the depressive disorder he suffered in his 20s—presented the Publicity Campaign of the Year Award, and spoke up for the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs through Sunday (May 20).

Below is a listing of the awards, starting with the industry awards, followed by the book awards.

‘Industry’ Nibbies for 2018

The Quarto Group’s Karine Marko, winner of the Frankfurter Buchmesse-sponsored Rights Professional of the Year award, is joined by Frankfurt’s Dorothea Grimberg. Image: Alex Hippisley-Cox

Marko wins in one of seven categories of “Great People” in the program.

The full round of seven winners in that group are:

  • Author of the Year (a new addition to the prizes): Philip Pullman
  • Illustrator of the Year (also new this year to the prizes): Axel Scheffler
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade: Tim Hely Hutchinson, former chief of Hachette UK
  • Editor of the Year: Simon Prosser, Hamish Hamilton
  • Literary Agent of the Year: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency
  • Rights Professional of the Year: Karine Marko
  • Individual Bookseller of the Year: Greig Watt, Blackwell’s

Also winning the honors in the industry-facing prizes are the “Publishing Success” group. Its set of seven winners comprises:

  • Marketing Strategy of the Year: HarperCollins for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Publicity Campaign of the Year: Rosi Crawley and Emma Draude of ED Public Relations for Walker Books for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year: Maths–No Problem
  • Children’s Publisher of the Year: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Imprint of the Year: Viking
  • Independent Publisher of the Year: Faber & Faber
  • Publisher of the Year: HarperCollins

And in the “Bringing Books to Readers” group:

  • Children’s Bookseller of the Year: The Book Nook
  • Independent Bookshop of the Year: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
  • Book Retailer of the Year: Blackwell’s
‘Book’ Nibbies for 2018

Author Judith Kerr at The Bookseller’s British Book Awards. Image: Alex Hippisley-Cox

  • Book of the Year: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperFiction)
  • Fiction: Debut Book of the Year: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperFiction)
  • Fiction Book of the Year: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (4th Estate)
  • Fiction: Crime and Thriller: The Dry by Jane Harper (Abacus)
  • Nonfiction: Lifestyle Book of the Year: 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph)
  • Nonfiction: Narrative Book of the Year: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury)
  • Audiobook of the Year (a new addition to the prizes): La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, narrated by Michael Sheen (Penguin Random House UK Audio)
  • Children’s Book of the Year: Joint winners The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton) and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)

And in one of The Bookseller’s reports on the awards, the additions this year of an award for best author and illustrator this year was touched on by the company’s CEO and publisher, Nigel Roby, who’s quoted, saying, “It’s a truism, but without authors and illustrators there are no books to publish, no books to sell. They are the stars. We must cherish them.”

The illustrator Sarah McIntyre presents the new Illustrator of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. Image: Tweeted by HarperCollins UK’s Nick Coveney @nmjcoveney


There’s a full list of the 2018 winners for the British Book Awards here. More from Publishing Perspectives on the British Book Awards is here. And more on publishing’s prize programs is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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