Transworld and W H Smith Travel have been crowned as two of the biggest winners at The British Book Industry Awards 2016.
Transworld emerged victorious as the BBIA’s Publisher of the Year, sponsored by Bertrams, for having “led the way" as print growth returned for the first time since 2007.
Its publication of 2015’s “defining", and third biggest selling, hardback - Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train - typified Transworld’s ability to break new authors, according to the judges, as demonstrated by The Girl on the Train's grip on the number one spot of the Original Fiction chart for 29 weeks; it was also Audible’s most downloaded audiobook of the year. Other notable successes included Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, which made the year’s overall top 20, and Kate Atkinson's critically acclaimed companion to Life After Life, A God in Ruins, which took the Costa Novel Award.
These successes, aided by its “exceptionally strong sales, marketing and publicity teams”, totted up to 12% sale growth (TCM): nearly double the last year's market average of 6.6%.
The judges commented: “Transworld publishes the hell out of its books, and it’s hard to think that anyone could have made more out of The Girl on the Train. It was firing on all cylinders in 2015 – no one does blockbuster publishing like Transworld.”
Meanwhile W H Smith Travel swung the approval of the judges to win Book Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Bonnier Publishing, for its “impressive” like-for-like sales growth ahead of the general print market, seven years in decline.
Its expansion across the UK and abroad, including books-only openings, also impressed. It opened 20 new units in the UK over the course of 2015, including four standalone The Bookshop by W H Smith sites, tailored to their high-footfall in-travel hubs. Meanwhile, supporting emerging authors, it also re-launched Fresh Talent, a scheme that worked to promote début and emerging authors - for which it recently held a book signing at Heathrow Terminal 5 - while its “well-run” bespoke bookshop operations at Harrods and Selfridges also demonstrated to the judges both W H Smith Travel's “diversity” and its "very flexible approach to bookselling”.
The judges said: “Every time you travel, W H Smith is there and looking good. It gives a brilliant service to the travelling market and... is so important for keeping books at the front of people’s minds.”
W H Smith Travel won the category over rival contenders Blackwell’s, Dubray, Foyle, Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and independent Winstone’s.
Among the other awards, as part of a “remarkable” year of growth for Pan Macmillan, Picador was awarded the accolade Imprint of the Year, sponsored by FMCM, in particular for its ability to be both literary and commercial - “with no sense of compromise between the two”.
The “star performer” laid on a spread of bestsellers in 2015, most notably Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, boasted authors on the Man Booker shortlist, and launched a new list to celebrate its backlist: Picador Classic. Other qualities prized by the judges included “imaginative" marketing that raised the bar for other literary presses, its support of independent booksellers, and the “exceptional” quality of its author care.
HarperCollins Children’s Books took the Children’s Publisher of the Year award, sponsored by BookTrust, for the third year in a row. Its TCM sales were up 68% over five years, scoring £10m+ in sales from David Walliams titles alone, selling more than two million books through the TCM. But judges also responded to its investment in emerging novelists and charitable work for Save the Children, Comic Relief and "Read On. Get On.” Its share of the picture book market was up 8% too, as were its English language sales. “It would be easy to rest on its laurels, but HarperCollins goes on making its children’s publishing better and better,” the judges said.
Oneworld was judged the BBIA’s Independent Publisher of the Year, sponsored by the Firsty Group, after 2015 marked the most successful year to date in its 30-year history; sales were up by 50% on 2014. It published Man Booker prize-winner Marlon James and the Gloria Steinem memoir that was chosen by actor Emma Watson for her first book club pick. It also showed ambitious expansion with new lists for children’s and crime. The judges called it a “properly independent publisher” that had to be admired for sticking with authors, like James, “it believes in”. “Now it is being rewarded, critically and commercially,” they said. It won out over shortlisted publishers Anderson Press, Faber & Faber, Head of Zeus, Laurence King, Michael O’Mara, Nosy Crow and Pavilion Books.
Hodder Education experienced its second victory in consecutive years, winning the accolade of Academic, Educational and Publisher of the Year, sponsored by the London Book Fair. It was lauded for record double-digit sales amid challenging market conditions, its substantial increase in output and surging export sales. The Bookseller’s judges admired Hodder’s “strong links” with schools and a new loyalty scheme that had managed to sign up thousands of teachers. Heavy investment in training and bonuses for staff also added to Hodder’s “dynamic year”. The judges said: “It’s getting stronger and stronger in just about every field – and it’s obviously a great place to work as well."
Jessica Kingsley Publishers was named Independent Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year, also sponsored by LBF, for a "best ever" year, with sales up double digits. It was praised for its "superb focus" on important niches, including autism, dyslexia and dementia. Its TCM share went up by a third.
In retail, independent Winstone’s was crowned winner of the £5,000 Independent Bookshop of the Year prize sponsored by Gardners.
The shop, founded by Wayne Winstone, showed "strong, market-beating sales growth”, “exceptional” customer service and outreach work in the community – its success the product of "knowledgeable staff, great customers service and well-chosen stock” and a “strategic approach”, according to the judges. “What Wayne has done with the shop is remarkable,” said the judges. “He took a huge risk but it has paid off magnificently. Winstone’s is supremely good at what it does day in, day out, year after year. It’s obviously adored in its community and ambitious to expand. There’s a very exciting future ahead."
Children’s Bookseller of the Year, sponsored by Macmillan Children's Books, went to 130-year old Irish retailer Eason, which reported double-digit growth. To get there, its small team went beyond traditional bookselling by launching a seven-week Children’s SpringFest and a Young Adult book convention called DeptCon1, and gave its children’s buyer his own YouTube channel to recommend books from. Eason also runs literary initiatives, involving over 1,000 Irish schools. “Eason has had such a huge turnaround and achieves so much with a small team,” the judges said.
Urban Outfitters took the new Non-Traditional Retailer of the Year award, born out of the recognition of the increasingly important role non-traditional retailers are playing as part of the market, and sponsored by the Quarto Group. It generated high-volume sales from a small and well-curated stock that “genuinely reached new readers”, according to the judges.
Individuals in the trade were also rewarded for their hard work. Jonny Green, manager of Waterstones Piccadilly, was awarded the title Bookshop Manager of the Year, an award sponsored by HarperCollins, for his “meteoric rise” from a Leicester bookshop temp to running two of the country’s most iconic bookshops in six years (the other being Hatchards). He is credited with having a transformative effect on sales and service at the Waterstone’s flagship and for “inspirational leadership”.
Marian Mouzinho of Blackwell's bagged Young Retailer of the Year, sponsored by HarperCollins, in honour of Sue Butterworth. She is the fourth Blackwell’s staffer to win the award in six years and credited in revolutionising Blackwell’s Children’s bookselling in Newcastle, leading “huge” events programme and establishing key external partnerships. Her colleagues called her “the definition of going above and beyond”.
Editor of the Year, sponsored by Inspired Selection, went to Tina Persaud at Pavilion Books for anticipating the trend no one else saw coming: colouring-in. Responsible for the non-fiction success story of 2015, Millie Marotta, she was called a “brilliant trendspotter”. Her work led to a nine-fold increase in Batsford sales. Jenny Broom was highly commended for her work on Quarto’s Children’s lists.
Michele Young at Pan Macmillan earned the title Rights Professional of the Year, sponsored by the Frankfurt Book Fair. She steered a sharp rise in business in 2015, including sub-rights up by a third, demonstrated “superb leadership” of team that visited two dozen countries last year and is credited with an eye for opportunities for rights deals acrros Macmillan’s backlist. Her tenacious pursiot of non-book rights, such as merchandising and drama, was also commended. The judges said: “Her deals range from big markets to languages no one has heard of, and the way she constantly finds new rights business for old titles is amazing.”
Literary Agent Lizzy Kremer of David Higham Associates won the Orion-sponsored Literary Agent of the Year award, following the “glorious culmination” of her “loyal support of authors” that was Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train. She has a strong stable of authors across womens fiction and her “exceptional loyalty to authors in a fast-changing marketplace” had judges asking, “what more could ask for in an agent?”
The BA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade went to James Patterson, recognising his “unprecedented support" of the book trade. He has helped flooded booksellers back to their feet, providing £500,000 grant funds over the past two years, and also supported school libraries through World Book Day and The World Book Day Award.
Individual campaigns were finally recognised through the Marketing Strategy of the Year award, sponsored by Nielsen, and Publicity Campaign of the Year award, sponsored by the Publishers Publicty Circle, which went to Little Black Classics (Penguin Random House) and Alison Barrow for The Girl on the Train, respectively.
Little Black Classics implemented a “far-reaching” strategy to promote its stellar backlist, amassing sales of more than 2.2m units across the range, which the judges admired for its brilliant use of branding too. Hodder & Stoughton was highly commended for its work with YouTube star Joe Sugg.
Barrow won out for her “all-bases” campaign, resulting in the TCM volume sales of 500,000+ in 2015. She deftly managed word of mouth over the entire year and her advance planning paid off. “Transworld took a relatively unknown author and made her a household name,” said the judges. “The sheer number of copies sold, and the fact it kept going through the entire year, is extraordinary. It’s a true word of mouth hit, and it is the publicity work that has driven that.” Eleni Lawrence was highly commended for “making Ella Woodward a lifestyle brand”, meanwhile.
The Library of the Year award, presented in association with the Reading Agency, was awarded to Dagenham Library. In a disheartening year of cuts and closures for libraries, Dagenham was hailed a “shining example” of what a difference a library can make to its community. It provides “welcoming and attractive” space, zoned for different age groups, has a “inclusive” approach, and hosts an array of events from reading groups to open mic nights. “ There’s so much going on here – it’s an exciting place to be,” said the judges.
Shetland Library was highly commended for “connecting remote communities”: “It takes the service out to its community rather than waiting for people to come through the doors,” praised the judges.