FT Schroders Business Book Awards’ 2023 Shortlist

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The jurors of this program called in Walter Isaacson’s ‘Elon Musk’ after the longlist was announced. They have shortlisted it with five others..

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

An Elongated List?
A funny thing happened on the way to the United Kingdom’s Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award shortlist: Walter Isaacson’s new Elon Musk (Simon & Schuster) was put into the running.

The new and much-discussed Isaacson title, which was published on September 12, was not on the longlist, as provided to Publishing Perspectives and—from a quick check of some of our sister news media—it wasn’t longlisted for those press outlets, either. Indeed, you can see the 15-book longlist at the competition’s site and in Andrew Hill’s August 13 piece at the FT, as well as in our longlist story on August 16, without the Musk biography.

Update, September 28: We appreciate hearing from the program’s organizers in response to our reporting the fact that the Isaacson book has been shortlisted, although not longlisted.

This is confirmed by the organizers today and was not mentioned in the original shortlist media messaging. Hill has published a later article at the FT, in which he writes, “Musk’s book was released only last week and was not on the original longlist of 15. The judges exercised their rarely-used right to call in the title for consideration and add it directly to the shortlist.”

As we’ve pointed out, references to the timing of the Iasaacson release may not be material here. The program allows for entries published up to mid-November. And the Mustafa Suleyman-Michael Bhaskar book, The Coming Wave (Penguin Random House), was also longlisted in August and is shortlisted–although it, like Isaacson’s, was released only this month, on September 5.

Today, Publishing Perspectives is told by organizers that it’s “not common” for a jury to call in a book between the longlist and shortlist, but that it is permitted by the program’s rules. This is good to know.

It may be, however, that those behind the 15 longlisted titles thought they each had one of six shots at being shortlisted when, in fact, one of those opportunities was handed to the Isaacson book.

As we stated originally, this is nothing against the Business Book of the Year competition, Walter Isaacson, his book, Simon & Schuster, Elon Musk–or the competition jurors who opted to call in the Isaacson book.

It’s simply a question of optics. It’s a matter of communicating–right up front, as part of the shortlist press materials when they’re released–the fact that a rare post-longlist call-in has occurred, rather than saying nothing with the announcement.

And we thank the organizers for being in touch with us.

FT Business Book of the Year 2023 Shortlist

As you’ll recall, the winner of this annual contest, now in its 19th year, receives £30,000 (US$36,393), while the remaining shortlistees are to get £10,000 (US$12,131) each. A winner—presumably drawn from this shortlist—is to be named on December 4.

And then it would be great to see the Business Book of the Year join the Booker prizes in fiction and the British Academy Book Prize in nonfiction in following up on the winner’s announcement with some data as to what impact the program’s top honor has on sales.

Title Author(s) Publisher
Material World: A Substantial Story of Our Past and Future Ed Conway Penguin Random House / WH Allen (UK), Penguin Random House / Knopf (USA)
Right Kind of Wrong: Why Learning to Fail Can Teach Us to Thrive Amy Edmondson Cornerstone Press (UK), Simon & Schuster / Atria (USA)
How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, 

From Home Renovations to Space Exploration

Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner Macmillan (UK), Penguin Random House / Currency (USA)
Elon Musk  Walter Isaacson Simon & Schuster (UK and USA)
Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives Siddharth Kara Macmillan / Saint Martin’s Press (UK and USA)
The Coming Wave: AI, Power, and the 21st Century’s Greatest Dilemma Mustafa Suleyman, Michael Bhaskar Penguin Random House/Bodley Head (UK), Penguin Random House / Crown (USA)

Jurors for this year’s competition include:

  • Mimi Alemayehou, founding managing partner at Semai Ventures
  • Daisuke Arakawa, managing director for global business, Nikkei
  • Mitchell Baker, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation and chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation
  • Peter Harrison, Schroders Group’s CEO
  • Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy, a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School
  • James Kondo, chair of the International House of Japan
  • Randall Kroszner, Norman R. Bobins professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business
  • Shriti Vadera, chair of Prudential and the Royal Shakespeare Company
Previous Winners of the Business Book of the Year
  • Chris Miller for Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology (2022)
  • Nicole Perlroth for This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race (2021)
  • Sarah Frier for No Filter: The Inside Story of How Instagram Transformed Business, Celebrity and Our Culture (2020)
  • Caroline Criado Perez for Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (2019)
  • John Carreyrou for Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018)
  • Amy Goldstein for Janesville: An American Story (2017)
  • Sebastian Mallaby for The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan (2016)
  • Martin Ford for Rise of the Robots (2015)
  • Thomas Piketty for Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014)
  • Brad Stone for The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (2013)
  • Steve Coll for Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (2012)
  • Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo for Poor Economics (2011)
  • Raghuram Rajan for Fault Lines (2010)
  • Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance (2009)
  • Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide (2008)
  • William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons (2007)
  • James Kynge for China Shakes the World (2006)
  • Thomas Friedman for The World is Flat (2005)

More from Publishing Perspectives on awards programs in books and the publishing industry is here. More on the FT Business Book of the Year award is here, more on business books in general is here, more on the United Kingdom’s market is here, and more on the United States’ market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

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