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Literature Prize could coincide with LBF
31.10.11 | Charlotte Williams
The Literature Prize is to be awarded in the spring of each year, with founder Andrew Kidd saying it will take place for the first time in 2012 if the necessary funding is secured by the end of this year.
Kidd said the prize would be awarded "after the Costa, before the Orange, and some distance from the Booker". Since the Costa is usually awarded in January, and the Orange in May, this means the prize may be awarded close to London Book Fair, which takes place next year on 16th to 18th April.
Kidd said: "It had occurred to us that we might coincide [the award] with the London Book Fair, though of course it's too early to make a decision on that. Ultimately, though, this is a prize for readers, and the book fair is an industry event."
Books eligible for the prize must have been published in the UK in the 12 months of the calendar year prior to the spring ceremony, and must have been written initially in English. Therefore, if the prize were to take place in 2012, all six of this year's Man Booker-shortlisted titles would be eligible.
Kidd, an agent at Aitken Alexander, said it would be "absolutely fine" if the prize ever shared a winner with the Booker, saying it "inevitably might happen".
Prize money is still to be confirmed, but Kidd said it would be in the same league as other major literary prizes. The Booker Prize awards £50,000 to its winner, the Orange Prize awards £30,000 and the Costa Prize gives £35,000. He said a £1m launch pot would be "an exaggerated figure in terms of getting a prize off the ground", but added: "Obviously long-term funding would be significant."
The prize will not feature a longlist, instead opting to issue a shortlist of five or six titles. Kidd said: "We don't believe longlists have significant commercial impact to justify the anxiety they cause authors. We also feel they have a diluting effect."
It will be governed by a committee of approximately 12 members, some of whom will hold commercial positions within the book industry. The names are expected to be revealed in the next week. The committee will select the prize's judges from an academy of 40 to 50 members, consisting of invited writers, critics and others "immersed full-time in the world of books", and who will join the academy for "no fixed period".
Kidd said there would be five judges each year, of which one would be chairman, with selection "based primarily on a self-generating process of rotation". For example, Kidd said if an author in the academy was publishing a book that may be eligible for the prize, they would then not be chosen as a judge that year. Some academy members may judge the award more than once, but it will not be a rule that a previous judge has to appear on the prize panel the following year.
Kidd said the details of the submission process were still being confirmed, but that they were looking at ways of addressing the issue of publishers having to choose which of their books to submit, as well as of the judges having to read too many books. He added: "This prize will unashamedly embrace the idea of the book as art . . . and that has to do with language, form, ideas and storytelling, and the unity of all those things."