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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.

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As with this list every year, I feel many nominated titles could easily pass for mid-1980s LPs by The Fall.

50,000 Containers of Fromage Frais Can't Be Wrong?

Psst... There's a letter s missing from the word "physics" in the poll on the homepage.

Even more perplexing is the $795 price tag on Amazon's website for "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais"!

Perhaps someone should write a book called " The sales forecast for the book:The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. Now that would be interesting.

My thought is if two titles had been combined there would have been a sure fire winner

"Strip and Knit Whilst Having Your Colon Checked Curbside"

Horace, heard you on the radio earlier so had to come vote. I laughed so hard when I heard some of the books. Crazy stuff. i voted for Colon but don't think any of this year's are quote as funny as that one last year about closing your legs to get closure in a relationship. Hilarious.

60-milligram containers of fromage frais? Shurely shome mistake here, it would be a tiny blob. Did you mean millilitres?

If "Strip and Knit..." were published by (T&A) it would have my vote! But, although the title/publisher connection might typically be a criteria... anything about the colon published by SLACK has to be a winner!

I think we should do a write-in vote and get All Dogs Have ADHD back on the short list! Hooray for Kathy Hoopmann's whimsical book about a serious subject. See also her delightful book, "All Cats Have Aspergers" which as been critically acclaimed.

It seems to me that although cheating could never be envisaged the importance of this award is now so great that modern technology could enable "manipulation".For example, create a "book" just for the crazy title,no content , register the isbn and publish as an E book .

People will do anything for awards like this .

It may be decided by a public vote but I suspect that Baboon Metaphysics may be suffering from the 'hanging chad' syndrome. Despite the votes of myself and numerous associates within the Drunken Rambunctious Irish London Booksellers, its tally is staying suspiciously low...

Good heavens no, Cris. Rule 1.1a (Section 1A) in the Official Rules for Submissions for The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year states that "no publishing house shall nominate any of their own titles for the prestigious award and if they do so they risk being blacklisted for a period no less than 31,000 years". Techniques... was spotted by one of our readers

Is 'Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring' really an odd title? Yes it's technical but it isn't odd. I guess Martin Woodhead of Woodhead publishing nominated this and it was shortlisted because his book on cheese didn't win last year depsite his intense lobbying on its behalf. Is the Diagram award going to go the way of other major literary awards with favoured publishers getting the award eventually? Can we expect members of the judging panel to start leaking to the press about rows, favouritism and cliques? I think we should be told.

Regarding Dogs & ADHD, Cats & Aspergers and alos last year's winner (plus the Stray Shopping Carts one) - shouldn't these be disqualified on the grounds of having intentionally 'wacky' titles? Surely the point with Nude Mice and so on is that they are genuinely bizarre? Cracking shortlist this year though, I have to say; personally, I'm going for Fromage Frais although I have a feeling that Baboon Metaphysics will be the runaway winner.

I vote for Strip & Knit with Style. Although if you take it literally watch the needles!
Bob Silverman
Woodstock Quilt Supply
Woodstock NY
www.quiltstock.com

I am not impressed. Four of the titles appear to actually be the subject of non-fiction, technical books (Kowalski, Parker, Hordysynski, Yang). I will grant you that the remaining two titles are at least somewhat intriguing.

Is it too late to suggest

The Cut-Throat Celts: Activity Book

as a contender for the Diagram prize?

The best part was that baboons arew the best species ever
they interact wirth other humans easily and they protect there relationships

As with this list every year, I feel many nominated titles could easily pass for mid-1980s LPs by The Fall.

50,000 Containers of Fromage Frais Can't Be Wrong?

Psst... There's a letter s missing from the word "physics" in the poll on the homepage.

If "Strip and Knit..." were published by (T&A) it would have my vote! But, although the title/publisher connection might typically be a criteria... anything about the colon published by SLACK has to be a winner!

60-milligram containers of fromage frais? Shurely shome mistake here, it would be a tiny blob. Did you mean millilitres?

Horace, heard you on the radio earlier so had to come vote. I laughed so hard when I heard some of the books. Crazy stuff. i voted for Colon but don't think any of this year's are quote as funny as that one last year about closing your legs to get closure in a relationship. Hilarious.

My thought is if two titles had been combined there would have been a sure fire winner

"Strip and Knit Whilst Having Your Colon Checked Curbside"

Even more perplexing is the $795 price tag on Amazon's website for "The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais"!

Perhaps someone should write a book called " The sales forecast for the book:The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. Now that would be interesting.

Is 'Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring' really an odd title? Yes it's technical but it isn't odd. I guess Martin Woodhead of Woodhead publishing nominated this and it was shortlisted because his book on cheese didn't win last year depsite his intense lobbying on its behalf. Is the Diagram award going to go the way of other major literary awards with favoured publishers getting the award eventually? Can we expect members of the judging panel to start leaking to the press about rows, favouritism and cliques? I think we should be told.

Good heavens no, Cris. Rule 1.1a (Section 1A) in the Official Rules for Submissions for The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year states that "no publishing house shall nominate any of their own titles for the prestigious award and if they do so they risk being blacklisted for a period no less than 31,000 years". Techniques... was spotted by one of our readers

It may be decided by a public vote but I suspect that Baboon Metaphysics may be suffering from the 'hanging chad' syndrome. Despite the votes of myself and numerous associates within the Drunken Rambunctious Irish London Booksellers, its tally is staying suspiciously low...

It seems to me that although cheating could never be envisaged the importance of this award is now so great that modern technology could enable "manipulation".For example, create a "book" just for the crazy title,no content , register the isbn and publish as an E book .

People will do anything for awards like this .

I think we should do a write-in vote and get All Dogs Have ADHD back on the short list! Hooray for Kathy Hoopmann's whimsical book about a serious subject. See also her delightful book, "All Cats Have Aspergers" which as been critically acclaimed.

Regarding Dogs & ADHD, Cats & Aspergers and alos last year's winner (plus the Stray Shopping Carts one) - shouldn't these be disqualified on the grounds of having intentionally 'wacky' titles? Surely the point with Nude Mice and so on is that they are genuinely bizarre? Cracking shortlist this year though, I have to say; personally, I'm going for Fromage Frais although I have a feeling that Baboon Metaphysics will be the runaway winner.

I vote for Strip & Knit with Style. Although if you take it literally watch the needles!
Bob Silverman
Woodstock Quilt Supply
Woodstock NY
www.quiltstock.com

I am not impressed. Four of the titles appear to actually be the subject of non-fiction, technical books (Kowalski, Parker, Hordysynski, Yang). I will grant you that the remaining two titles are at least somewhat intriguing.

Is it too late to suggest

The Cut-Throat Celts: Activity Book

as a contender for the Diagram prize?

The best part was that baboons arew the best species ever
they interact wirth other humans easily and they protect there relationships