A “standout” Pan Macmillan and a resurgent Waterstones were two of the big winners at the Bookseller Industry Awards 2015, taking home the Publisher and Retailer of the Year prizes, respectively. Sam Husain, the recently retired c.e.o. of Foyles, was honoured with the BA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade, while Foyles received The Bookseller Special Award for its move to 107 Charing Cross Road.
The awards, presented this evening (11th May) at the Hilton Park Lane in London, honoured publishers, retailers, agents and librarians in 21 categories, including the inaugural Book of the Year award, won by Paul Kingsnorth for The Wake (Unbound).
Pan Mac took the Publisher of the Year category for a “standout” year in 2014, which saw its sales through Nielsen BookScan’s TCM rose 9.8%, when the overall market slipped 1.3%. Successes included Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist (Picador), as well as strong performances by children’s and international.
The judges said: “It is not just selling a lot of books, but trying to grow the market as a whole, and its efforts to reach people in different ways are hugely impressive. Pan Macmillan has been building towards a standout year, and it certainly had one in 2014.”
Pan Mac’s Francesca Main, editorial director at Picador, won the Editor of the Year prize, sponsored by Inspired Selection. Judges praised Main’s “strong list”—which includes The Miniaturist—and added: “She is forever turning out literary hits and breaking new voices—both of which the trade needs.”
Waterstones, which had not won in any of the main retailer categories at The Bookseller Industry Awards since 2009, had a “watershed year” in 2014 during which it “recovered its verve”, enabling it to win Book Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Bertram Books. Judges admired Waterstones’ “decision to devolve more autonomy to story, which in turn is making them much more relevant to their local communities”.
“This was Waterstones’ year,” the judges added. “It is giving people new reasons to visit, and it is wonderful to see a lot of hard work paying off.”
Jen Shenton, manager of Waterstones Covent Garden, won the Manager of the Year award, sponsored by Books Are My Bag, becoming the first woman to do so, in the first-ever all female shortlist for the prize. Shenton has “instilled a great culture of handselling and motivated her team to go the extra mile on customer service” since taking over at the shop a year ago.
Husain’s BA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade award was in recognition for transforming “Foyles from its idiosyncratic former self into a beacon of bookselling brilliance in the UK and beyond”, according to BA c.e.o. Tim Godfray, who presented the prize.
Foyles also won The Bookseller Special Award—which salutes innovation of a company or individual which has made a particular mark on the trade—for the move of its new flagship bookshop to 107 Charing Cross Road, London.
Judges said: “The move was a pivotal moment not just for the iconic London bookseller, but also for the wider book business.” Foyles won the award “for investing in the future of bookselling through the relocation of an iconic bookshop business, while collaborating with customers and the trade; and for doing so as part of a wider conversation about bookshops at a time when high street retailer revivification”.
For the second consecutive year, HarperCollins Children’s Books took home the Children’s Publisher of the Year award, sponsored by Booktrust. The publisher was praised for its success with David Walliams, as well its work with authors including Veronica Roth, Derek Landy and Holly Smale.
“HarperCollins was a massive contributor to children’s reading in 2014,” the judges said. “It brings on its authors strategically, realistically and with the long term in mind and is a textbook example of how to build big book brands… [But] it is powerful across the board. Even after the Walliams effect, it was a terrific year for HarperCollins’ Children’s.”
Profile Books was named Independent Publisher of the Year, sponsored by Printondemand-Worldwide. The indie was described as being “strategic about what it wants, tenacious about getting it and fiercely independent”. Karen Joy Fowler’s Man Booker Prize-shortlisted We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was its “transformative book” in 2014, helping its sales through TCM increase by nearly a fifth last year.
“There is a focussed and energetic feel to Profile,” said the judges. “It just keeps on upping its game – it’s not afraid to take gambles on its publishing, but it does so with confidence and determination.”
The Independent Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year award was won by Liverpool University Press, which had its best year in its 115-year history in 2014, with record sales and profits.
Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year was won by Hodder Education, for its breadth of output, judicious acquisitions, and excellent author care and outstanding staff retention rate. “It is formidably strong across the digital space and is obviously a great place to work,” said the judges.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, part of Orion Publishing Group, was named Imprint of the Year, sponsored by FMcM. The list celebrated its 65th year in 2014, but was “more dynamic than it has ever been”, with a broad range of hardback publishing and “astutely published paperbacks”.
“It’s amazing what Weidenfeld & Nicolson has achieved in the past year,” said the judges. “This is confident, ambitious and profitable publishing that goes right across the range.”
Gordon Wise of Curtis Brown won Literary Agent of the Year, sponsored by Orion. The judges cited bestsellers including Lynda Bellingham’s memoir There’s Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You, which was “sensitively handled”, and Boris Johnson’s The Churchill Factor. His “energetic work on licensing deals and the revival of many authors’ backlists” also led to Wise’s win.
“He’s a fully-fledged and rounded agent, and he keeps dishing up great debuts as well as big-brand authors,” said the judges.
Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group was highly commended in the Literary Agent of the Year category, noted for her “passion and drive”.
Rachel Mills from Peters, Fraser and Dunlop won Rights Professional of the Year, sponsored by The Frankfurt Book Fair. Since joining the company four years ago, Mills has “massively increased” its foreign rights income, and her team struck more than 160 deals in several dozen countries in 2014.
The judges said: “Mills is a very well-rounded rights professional and right at the heart of developing big author brands. She had made foreign rights an essential part of PFD’s business.”
Canongate’s Letters Live won the award for Marketing Strategy of the Year, sponsored by Nielsen and in association with The Book Marketing Society.
The judges said: “This was a marketing campaign that became a product and a brand in its own right. It was brilliant lateral thinking from Canongate—it brought letters to life and led consumers back to books in a very exciting way.”
Jonathan Cape’s Ruth Waldram won Publicity Campaign of the Year, sponsored by The Publishers’ Publicity Circle, for her work on H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Waldram “fired up sales” for the book long before it started winning prizes, when the “awards started rolling in, Waldram responded nimbly to keep the momentum going”.
The judges said: “The campaign didn’t just set out to shift a lot of units but to build an author and bring nature writing to a bigger audience. The book could have been a very hard sell, especially on a small budget. But what has been achieved with it is incredibly impressive.”
Georgina Moore at Headline was highly commended for her campaign for The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh (Tinder Press), which became a “big summer read”.
The Book Nook in Hove was named Children’s Bookseller of the Year, sponsored by Macmillan Children’s Books. The shop was praised for its “staggering range of outreach activity”, with the judges saying it was “constantly reimagining what children’s bookselling can be”.
The Independent Bookshop of the Year award, sponsored by Gardners Books, was won by Oswestry’s Booka Bookshop. “This is a fabulous-looking shop with a strong sense of identity and purpose,” said the judges. “It’s a labour of love, but much more too: a commercially minded and thoroughly professional operation.” As part of the award, Gardners awarded Booka £5,000 to be used on marketing.
Joe Tagg from Blackwell’s was named Young Retailer of the Year, an award sponsored by HarperCollins and given in honour of Sue Butterworth. Tagg, who is in charge of Blackwell’s sales to university college libraries across Oxford, is “proof that young talent is just as important in bookshop accounts as it is on shops’ frontline”.
Highly commended in the category was Rory Hill of Norwich’s The Book Hive, who was admired by the judges for the way he “constantly delivers beyond his remit”.
Library of the Year, in association with The Reading Agency, was won by Orkney Library and Archive. It has “just two static libraries and one mobile one, but delivers far more than that would imply”.
The judges said: “The service here has a real sense of personality and charisma, and it knows its people inside out. There is a strong vision of what it wants to achieve and it totally nails it.”
Independent publisher Head of Zeus was named Digital Business of the Year, for its substantial year-on-year sales growth and impressive profitability, as well as its digitally savvy marketing and balancing of digital and print. The judges said: “It has a simple but brilliant plan that it executes consistently well, and it is starting to shift a lot of units.”