Baboons and sieves vie for odd title

The shortlist for the annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year has been unveiled by The Bookseller. Six titles, with subjects ranging from fromage frais to strip knitting, make up the shortlist for the hotly contested award, which is now in its 31st year.

Horace Bent, The Bookseller magazine’s legendary diarist and custodian of the prize, said: "Never have I found it so problematic to pick a shortlist of just six. At a time when the economic climate is forbidding and cost-cutting companies are ten-a-penny, I’m proud to report that the British publishing industry has remained as stubborn in the face of change as ever."

Philip Stone, a sales analyst at The Bookseller, added: "We received a huge number of entries this year and the debate was furious as to which would be included on the shortlist. Six seems such a cruelly low number given titles such as Excrement in the Late Middle Ages and All Dogs Have ADHD were rejected.

"We also had to exclude a few titles because they were published before 2008—Monumental Beginnings: Archaeology of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road and one of my personal favourites, Sketches of Hull Authors. The latter was first published back in 1879, but thanks to 'print on demand'—the wonderful saviour of 'out of print' books—you can still purchase copies to this day."

Stone added: "The Diagram Prize this year has achieved a wonderful quadruple. It celebrates the diversity within book publishing today, the risks publishers are willing to take to support freedom of information, the beauty of print-on-demand for fascinatingly niche titles, and perhaps most of all, complete and utter oddity."

The shortlist is as follows:

Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy Dorothy L Cheney and Robert M Seyfarth (University of Chicago Press)
 
Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D Cash (SLACK Incorporated)

The Large Sieve and its Applications by Emmanuel Kowalski (Cambridge University Press)
 
Strip and Knit with Style by Mark Hordyszynski (C&T)
 
Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring
by Lietai Yang (Woodhead)
 
The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Professor Philip M Parker (Icon Group International)

The prestigious award was first conceived by The Diagram Group’s Bruce Robertson as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Run by Horace Bent, the first ever winner was the University of Tokyo Press’ Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, in 1978. Last year’s winner was If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.

The winner of the 2008 award will be chosen by a public vote at www.thebookseller.com, and will be announced on Friday 27th March, 2009.