Harper & Foyles triumph at Bookseller Awards

HarperCollins claimed this year’s prestigious Publisher of the Year accolade at the Bookseller Industry Awards last night (14th May) as mini-chain Foyles triumphed in the bookselling corner by scooping double retail titles with National and Children’s Bookseller of the Year.

“Industry-leading digital activity,” a “sharp focus on authors from big-name brands down to debutants” and “a thriving educational division” were among the reasons this year's judges made HarperCollins the winner of 2012’s Publisher of the Year title, sponsored by London Book Fair. At a black-tie event at London’s Park Lane Hilton last night (14th May), attended by over 620 people, HC managing director Simon Johnson said: "We have published some fantastic books and had some fantastic sales across all areas of the business." He called the win "absolutely brilliant".

Chair of the judges and editor-in-chief of The Bookseller Neill Denny, said: “All of this year’s winners show innovation within the book trade, which is flourishing despite, or even because, of the turbulent period we are living in economically. The awards this year also capture a point in the transition from a predominantly print world to a combined print and digital world in books.”

Judges said of the publisher: “In 2011, the company increased its print sales while those all around were losing theirs and this award is its award. A 2% sales increase through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market left HarperCollins the only one of the top eight publishers in the black – compared to a 6% dip across the TCM as a whole.”

Steady expansion with two new shops in 2011, “exceptionally talented staff” and marketing and promotional innovation combined to earn Foyles the National Bookseller of the Year award. The six-strong mini-chain headed up by c.e.o. Sam Husain also won the Children’s Bookseller of the Year title, sponsored by Usborne. The company has introduced a Foyles Kids Group over the past year and has placed a children’s specialist in every store, with school accounts boosted and link to local communities strengthened.

Random House imprint Harvill Secker and its editor Liz Foley bagged 2012’s Imprint and Editor of the Year title sponsored by The Publishing Training Centre following commercial success with more than five top 10 hits from 40 books published and a commitment to global literacy fiction. “Harvill Secker is the imprint that has shone the brightest over the past year,” the judges said. “Liz has deftly brought its two lists together and created a very distinctive imprint within a large conglomerate.”

Marketing Campaign of the Year sponsored by Nielsen was won by Pan Macmillan with the title Room by Emma Donoghue, following a successful partnership with Mumsnet, far-reaching links with public libraries  and extensive outdoor activity, including London Underground, bus and national rail spots.

Children’s Publisher of the Year was given to Usborne, which was congratulated for “superb care of authors and staff leading to a happy work environment” and steady growth of its e-book list and digital development including mini-sites and social media. Digital Strategist of the year was to Harlequin Mills & Boon was its experiments with business models and pricing structures, harnessing e-book bundling and using social media to build brand loyalty. In the corner for the indies, The Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswell’s, owned by Rosamund and Bill de la Hay, won Independent Bookseller of the Year, pocketing the £5,000 award courtesy of sponsor Gardners Books, while Linghams Booksellers in Heswell was highly recommended in the category. 

Children’s Independent Bookseller of the Year, sponsored by Walker Books, was bestowed upon The Book Nook in Brighton and Hove. The judges said: “From its baby changing facilities and its in-door pirate ship to keep younger children happy, to its homemade cakes, the shop anticipates the needs of parents and children alike.” Darrell Thrush-Denning of Blackwell in Edinburgh won manager of the year after a "clever balancing of academic and general trade". Katie Clapham of Storytellers Inc in Lytham St Annes won the Sue Butterworth Young Bookseller of the Year, sponsored by HarperCollins, for her "imaginative and distinctive stock selection" and "busy and varied" programme of events.

Constable and Robinson bagged the Independent Publisher of the Year title after seeing a sharp rise in sales and profits amid testing market conditions and Andy Hine from Little, Brown won Rights Professional of the Year, sponsored by the Frankfurt Book Fair. Literary Agent of the year went to Jonny Geller from Curtis Brown and Anwen Hooson and Amelia Fairney were given the Publicity Campaign of the Year award sponsored by the Publishers’ Publicity Circle  for Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin—a collaboration between Riot Communications and Penguin.

One of two new categories added to the 2012 line up, the Library of the Year Award, was won by Edinburgh City Libraries for its range of services for hard-to-reach readers, cutting-edge website and app and engaging social media activity. The second, Academic, Educational & Professional Publisher of the Year was given to Oxford University Press for “unrivalled global reach, with books in 40 languages and operations in more than 50 countries.”