London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards Honor ‘Publishing To Build a Better World’

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As confusion on Brexit continues, the London Book Fair International Book Awards audience cheered internationalism in the largest yet round of honors.

At the 2019 London Book Fair International Book Awards London Live’s Luke Blackall emcee. Image: London Book Fair

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

Finland’s Espoo, China’s Fang Suo, Kenya’s eKitabu
In accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award Tuesday night (March 12) at the London Book Fair‘s International Excellence Awards, the revered Stockholm publisher of multiple Nobel Prize winners, Dorotea Bromberg recalled not only her mother shouting about publishing killing too many trees, but her father, Adam, with whom she founded Brombergs Bokförlag in 1975.

“I see him,” she said, “waving to me from a bar” to cheer her success—but also to approve of the date: “March 12,” she told the audience “was in fact his birthday. And this is my father’s magical powers” at work.

From her story of the family’s move to escape anti-Semitic persecution in Poland to boisterous grins from the stage and loud applause from the audience, the evening featured the largest rack of awards yet, produced by the fair in association with the UK’s Publishers Association.

In a prepared statement, London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas said, “The International Excellence Awards always remind us of the innovative, important and inspiring work being done by all those in the global publishing community.

“From translators in India and librarians in Finland to literary festivals in Ukraine and literary agents in France, these awards show the breadth of talent working in the publishing industry around the world today.

“It is absolutely brilliant to recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations here at The London Book Fair, in the creative capital of the world.”

And Stephen Lotinga, the Publishers Association chief, said, “From Brazil to Kenya, this year’s winners epitomize the potential of publishing to build a better world, making us proud to be part of this global community.

“We’re particularly delighted to see Jacaranda take home the Inclusivity in Publishing Award in recognition of their proven track record and vision in championing diverse talent. It’s inspiring to see that the next generation of publishers are equally passionate about reaching every reader–the future is in good hands.”

The Publishers Association, of course, participates in London Book Fair’s annual autumn conference, Building Inclusivity, now three years in and among the key elements of the United Kingdom’s world leadership in deepening diversity.

Mounting Tension: Brexit’s Lengthening Night

At an entrance to the London Book Fair’s Olympia London venue, the fair’s special guest authors from Europe are featured in major signage Image: London Book Fair

Ironically for everyone there to honor the internationalism of the publishing industry—and even tales of immigration like Bromberg’s—Stephen Castle was writing for The New York Times, “Britain hurtled into unknown political territory on Tuesday when Parliament, for the second time, rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to quit the European Union, leaving her authority in tatters and the country seemingly rudderless just 17 days before its scheduled departure from the bloc.”

Ground underfoot by a 391 to 242 vote across town from Olympia London in Westminster, May’s plan would have controlled immigration but preserved the UK in the EU’s customs system—which might have been welcomed by publishers and international collective stands that have already experienced difficulty in getting their exhibition apparatus and books into London for one of the world’s most influential annual trade shows.

As it is, debates now rage over the notion of a second referendum on Brexit (most we’ve asked here say no way) and, as Castle writes, a potentially more realistic possibility of a general election to try to reconfigure what appears to be a hopelessly conflicted government with its meter running down fast toward March 29.

It’s anticipated that Parliament will support a Brexit talks extension now, something the EU leadership would have to approve.

But in the room Tuesday evening, the exhaustion of government dysfunction fell away under the awards show’s traditional colored lights and smooth-running coordination by Midas PR, smartphone batteries depleted by their cameras in perhaps a deeper-than-usual appreciation for the globalization so aggressively pursued by publishers in the books trade today.

Even a few honorees from Trump-maddened America could find cheer in Thomas’ wry moments at the podium, extolling London as a welcoming city (“And long may it stay that way”) and the fair’s new-this-year Europe Café (“you’ll find not backstop there”).

2019 International Excellence Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dorotea Bromberg speaks at the 2019 International Excellence Awards, London Book Fair. Image: Porter Anderson

The Academic and Professional Publisher Award

  • De Gruyter (Germany)

The Audiobook Publisher of the Year

  • Booklava (UAE)

The Bookstore of the Year Award sponsored by Gardners

  • Fang Suo Commune (China)

The Educational Initiatives Award

  • Tata Trusts (India)

The Educational Learning Resources Award, supported by The China Publishing & Media Journal

  • Virtual Reading Gym (South Africa)

International Book Trade Journalist (new award this year)

  • Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Publishing Perspectives (USA)

The Library of the Year Award

  • Espoo City Library (Finland)

The Literary Translation Initiative Award

  • Tulika Publishers (India)

The Literary Agent Award

  • Pierre Astier, Founder and Director, Astier-Pecher Literary & Film Agency (France)

The Literary Festival Award

  • Book Arsenal Literary Festival (Ukraine)

The Rights Professional Award

  • Rose Janssens, Foreign Rights Key Account Manager, Clavis Publishing (Belgium)

Eligible for entries from Market Focus Indonesia only: 

The Market Focus Indonesia Adult Trade Award

  • Bentang Pustaka

The Market Focus Indonesia Children’s, Young Adult and Education Award

  • PT. Bestari Buana Murni

Eligible for entries from all countries, including the UK: 

The London Book Fair Simon Master Chairman’s Award

  • Jessica Kingsley, Founder, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (UK)

Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award: Publisher

  • EDITORIAL 5 (Brazil)

Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award: Initiative

  • eKitabu (Kenya)

Eligible for entries from the UK only:

Inclusivity in Publishing Award, supported by the Publishers Association

  • Jacaranda Books

 The Association for Publishing Education (APE) Dissertation and Project Prizes

  • Postgraduate Dissertation Prize: Emilie Hames (LCC UAL), ‘Environmental Sustainability Within the UK Book Publishing Industry’
  • Undergraduate Dissertation: Fanny Laetitia Allart (Oxford Brookes University), ‘#PublishingSoWhite: To What Extent is the Lack of Diversity Impacting the Anglo-French Publishing Industry?’
  • Major Project: Leanne Manfredi (LCC UAL), ‘Re-imagining the archive: activating creativity through publishing’
  • Overall Winner: Emilie Hames (LCC UAL), ‘Environmental Sustainability Within the UK Book Publishing Industry’

A decidedly international mix of trade visitors in professional publishing fills the aisle at the March 12 opening of the show. Image: London Book Fair


More from Publishing Perspectives on the London Book Fair is here, more from us on the International Excellence Awards is here, and more on publishing and book awards is here.

Our Spring Magazine is ready for your free download during the London Book Fair—where you’ll find the print edition available, also free of charge.

Read up on the issues and players important at LBF and other major fairs of the season this year, plus an early look at key points interest about the coming Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).

Download the new magazine 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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