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Quercus publisher of the year at The Bookseller Industry Awards

Quercus has been crowned 2011's best publisher at The Bookseller Industry Awards, as Sainsbury's scooped the Bookseller of the Year award.

Quercus was presented with the Bonnier Publishing Publisher of the Year Award at the black-tie event attended by around 600 people in London's Park Lane Hilton yesterday evening (16th May) after experiencing 100% growth in the past 12 months to become the 11th largest publishing house in the UK. One judge said: "They've got the numbers, the people and the energy. I admire them, and their achievements."

Sainsbury's was honoured with the Martina Cole General or Chain Bookselling Company of the Year Award after reinvigorating book zones, increasing book sales by more than 33% and attracting new book buyers to the market. One judge said: "We should celebrate the fact that they are embracing books and offering people an alternative place to buy—somewhere they can spend time browsing as well as buying."

Faber & Faber was a double winner, clinching the Ingram Independent Publisher of the Year Award and the FutureBook Digital Innovation Prize with Touch Press for their Solar System for iPad app. The judges complimented Faber's successful schemes such as the Faber Factory, a digital service launched last September. One panel member said the publisher boasted a back-end that was doing "amazingly well" alongside "tonnes of poetry successes". Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page was also praised for the range of innovations under his leadership, with one judge claiming "he has done a huge amount for the industry".

With a list including Rose Tremain's Trespass and Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes, Clara Farmer was awarded Imprint and Editor for the Year for her stewardship of Chatto & Windus. Her first year in charge saw the second highest turnover in its 156-year history. Scholastic's Alison Green was highly commended for the Alison Green Books imprint. Children's Publisher of the Year went to Penguin Children's Books for "an amazing all-round performance". Simon & Schuster was highly commended for "good taste, vibrant publishing and numerous award wins".

Initiatives such as the launch of a UK-specific e-book store and e-reader led Amazon.co.uk to win Direct Bookselling Company of the Year. Waterstone's won the Usborne Children's Bookseller of the Year.

London independent Tales on Moon Lane was another double winner on the night. The indie bagged the Walker Books Children's Independent Bookseller of the Year, while employee Georgina Hanratty won the HarperCollins Sue Butterworth Young Bookseller award—the latter gong was jointly given to Micha Solana from Blackwell's Royal Bank of Scotland shop in Edinburgh. It was Blackwell's second award of the evening, with Zool Verjee voted Lynda La Plante Manager of the Year for his work at its Broad Street Oxford branch.

The Gardners Books Independent Bookseller of the Year was Bath's Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, complimented for striking a balance "between old-style bookselling and new things outstandingly well". The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswell's, Scottish Borders, and The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin were all highly commended in this category.

Corvus' Rina Gill won PPC Publicity Campaign of the Year for her work on Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn, with Ruth Waldram at William Heinemann highly commended for her work on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird's 50th anniversary campaign.

The Orion Literary Agent Award was given to Robert Kirby of United Agents, and Frankfurt Book Fair Rights Professional of the Year was bestowed on Jake Smith-Bosanquet of Conville & Walsh.

Harlequin UK won Nielsen Marketing Campaign of the Year for Mills & Boon New Voices. The London Borough of Hillingdon Libraries was crowned Library Innovation of the Year for its library refurbishment programme, which was described by one judge as helping to make libraries "a better place to visit".

The Bookseller editor-in-chief and chair of the judging panel Neill Denny said: "Despite operating in a fast-changing market, the winners of these awards have shown themselves to be innovative and successful during a challenging time for the industry."

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Well done all. Interesting that in the write-up, Waterstone's get a mere line for what is surely a major award...

Oh how I don't miss the hangover.....well done to Ros and her team at Main Street Trading co for getting a mention.

Children's Bookseller of the year is surely important?
Hey ho.
Anyway, what's with Sainsbury's getting that big award? What do they do that warrants it? Sell chart titles cheap? Wow. big innovation.

Sainsburys' win sits a little uncomfortably with me, as it does do with many Tweeters from the looks of it. Although their sales are undoubtedly impressive, not sure sales alone should qualify it as the best 'general or chain' bookselling company of the year. Were aspects such as staff knowledge, shopping experience, range, bookseller enthusiasm, local marketing, not taken into consideration?

Congratulations to Sainsburys. I must pop in there sometime, as I fancy reading the John Updike Rabbit novels.

What? They don't stock them? - On well, I suppose I'll have to place a customer order.

What? They don't do customer orders either?!

Hmmm...

I will test this theory later... I will go to Sainsburys and ask the first member of staff I see near their books section a book-related question. I will report the no-doubt baffled response. Any ideas on a suitable question?
Something simple like "Do you know the name of the last Dan Brown book?" will probably flumox them.

Huge congratulations to Clara Farmer and her Chatto team, richly deserved win. (Yes, I am biased.)

Maybe the bookseller should provide details behind there award giving process.

I some how don't understand what Sainsburys have done to win this award. To me they have just looked at other supermarkets i.e. Tesco and Asda and copied there ideas. This doesn't warrent bookseller of the year award.

ooh what book snobs you all are - bearing in mind the overall state of the so-called 'bricks & mortar' market, I would have thought we should be all embracing anything that is encouraging any kind of book purchasing. Many people are quite intimidated going in to a 'proper' bookshop, so actually Sainsbury's have done a marvellous thing, bringing reading and the opportunity to browse more in touch with their customers - the result good sales growth - seriously, if we continue to be snobs about it, and not reward new routes to market (and awards like these are rewards aren't they) then how do we expect book sales to flourish - let's not be snobs about our product, it is rather unattractive to read. Oh and Sainsbury's staff are not to be attacked, they are working in a supermarket for goodness sake, let's be realistic!

The question is what have Sainsburys done that Asda, Tesco, etc have not?
They all sell chart titles at cheap prices. I'm not bitching, I just want to know why they won the award?
As for the comment above, re. staff knowledge, I think he was being snippy but he has a point...

Hopefully Quercus can resist the advances of Random House...nudge nudge

Huge congratulations to Tales on Moon Lane - a great children's bookshop. Proud to support them.

They moved around the bookshelves in our local Sainsburys. With that kind of investment i fail to see how anyone can complain at their award.

Well done to Nic/Ros and everyone at the Mr B's and Main Street.

It's not simple snobbery. The point is that bookselling involves a number of different facets - stocking a large range of titles, taking risks on unknown authors, ordering books that aren't in stock, giving customers information about books in print, holding author events and recommending new writers.

That's bookselling.

Stocking a limited range of mass and middle market titles, mostly written by authors with a proven track record, supplied by publishers on terms that would make an independent bookseller weep, is not bookselling. It is selling books.

Sainsbury's are ruthless profiteers solely motivated by sales and marketshare. They have zero interest or loyalty to books or readers. Those who commend or approve of their fleeting dalliance with books are short-sighted, money grubbing desperates.

They clearly didn't include my local branch of Sainsbury's in their final decision. The books 'section' is essentially one shelf in the farthest corner of the store and it took one member of staff I asked 10 minutes to locate it.

Right. I'm back.

Me: "Hi, do you have the latest book from Charlaine Harris?"

Staff: "Er... who, sorry?"

The conversation went downhill from there, I assure you.

Now, I'm sure Sainsburys do good work but please can someone explain to me why they deserved to win the award? Unless it is purely based on sales, which then makes it a very mercenary affair.

Sainbury's win suggests that the following aspects are considered of no relevance in identifying a good bookseller:

- Knowledgeable staff on hand to offer advice and recommendations
- Commitment to range, backlist and unproven authors
- Catering for diverse local communities
- A well-programmed events schedule

Perhaps the others on the shortlist fell short in their provision of discounted washing powder and flavourless tomatoes? Or should we all be pumping the smell of fresh bread thorugh the stacks?

In my opinion Quercus are easily the best new publisher around. They had the good sense and foresight to sign up Stieg Larsson (after he was dead but before he became famous) and have gone from strength to strength ever since. I wish them every possible success in the future.

Yggdrasil... I love you for your comment, and offer you the use of my wife.

Well done all. Interesting that in the write-up, Waterstone's get a mere line for what is surely a major award...

Oh how I don't miss the hangover.....well done to Ros and her team at Main Street Trading co for getting a mention.

Children's Bookseller of the year is surely important?
Hey ho.
Anyway, what's with Sainsbury's getting that big award? What do they do that warrants it? Sell chart titles cheap? Wow. big innovation.

Sainsburys' win sits a little uncomfortably with me, as it does do with many Tweeters from the looks of it. Although their sales are undoubtedly impressive, not sure sales alone should qualify it as the best 'general or chain' bookselling company of the year. Were aspects such as staff knowledge, shopping experience, range, bookseller enthusiasm, local marketing, not taken into consideration?

Congratulations to Sainsburys. I must pop in there sometime, as I fancy reading the John Updike Rabbit novels.

What? They don't stock them? - On well, I suppose I'll have to place a customer order.

What? They don't do customer orders either?!

Hmmm...

I will test this theory later... I will go to Sainsburys and ask the first member of staff I see near their books section a book-related question. I will report the no-doubt baffled response. Any ideas on a suitable question?
Something simple like "Do you know the name of the last Dan Brown book?" will probably flumox them.

Huge congratulations to Clara Farmer and her Chatto team, richly deserved win. (Yes, I am biased.)

Maybe the bookseller should provide details behind there award giving process.

I some how don't understand what Sainsburys have done to win this award. To me they have just looked at other supermarkets i.e. Tesco and Asda and copied there ideas. This doesn't warrent bookseller of the year award.

ooh what book snobs you all are - bearing in mind the overall state of the so-called 'bricks & mortar' market, I would have thought we should be all embracing anything that is encouraging any kind of book purchasing. Many people are quite intimidated going in to a 'proper' bookshop, so actually Sainsbury's have done a marvellous thing, bringing reading and the opportunity to browse more in touch with their customers - the result good sales growth - seriously, if we continue to be snobs about it, and not reward new routes to market (and awards like these are rewards aren't they) then how do we expect book sales to flourish - let's not be snobs about our product, it is rather unattractive to read. Oh and Sainsbury's staff are not to be attacked, they are working in a supermarket for goodness sake, let's be realistic!

It's not simple snobbery. The point is that bookselling involves a number of different facets - stocking a large range of titles, taking risks on unknown authors, ordering books that aren't in stock, giving customers information about books in print, holding author events and recommending new writers.

That's bookselling.

Stocking a limited range of mass and middle market titles, mostly written by authors with a proven track record, supplied by publishers on terms that would make an independent bookseller weep, is not bookselling. It is selling books.

The question is what have Sainsburys done that Asda, Tesco, etc have not?
They all sell chart titles at cheap prices. I'm not bitching, I just want to know why they won the award?
As for the comment above, re. staff knowledge, I think he was being snippy but he has a point...

Hopefully Quercus can resist the advances of Random House...nudge nudge

Huge congratulations to Tales on Moon Lane - a great children's bookshop. Proud to support them.

They moved around the bookshelves in our local Sainsburys. With that kind of investment i fail to see how anyone can complain at their award.

Well done to Nic/Ros and everyone at the Mr B's and Main Street.

Sainsbury's are ruthless profiteers solely motivated by sales and marketshare. They have zero interest or loyalty to books or readers. Those who commend or approve of their fleeting dalliance with books are short-sighted, money grubbing desperates.

They clearly didn't include my local branch of Sainsbury's in their final decision. The books 'section' is essentially one shelf in the farthest corner of the store and it took one member of staff I asked 10 minutes to locate it.

Right. I'm back.

Me: "Hi, do you have the latest book from Charlaine Harris?"

Staff: "Er... who, sorry?"

The conversation went downhill from there, I assure you.

Now, I'm sure Sainsburys do good work but please can someone explain to me why they deserved to win the award? Unless it is purely based on sales, which then makes it a very mercenary affair.

Brown Eye - I don't think you're being very fair. For a true comparison perhaps you should ask a Waterstones employee about the nutritional content of their chocolate.

Yggdrasil - very perceptive and very well put. Presumably Sainsburys won the award because of the phenomenal growth of their book sales. Why the industry should be rewarding phenomental growth in very low margin possibly loss leading sales is beyond me though. Its likely to cause damage in the long-term to the whole industry.

Sainbury's win suggests that the following aspects are considered of no relevance in identifying a good bookseller:

- Knowledgeable staff on hand to offer advice and recommendations
- Commitment to range, backlist and unproven authors
- Catering for diverse local communities
- A well-programmed events schedule

Perhaps the others on the shortlist fell short in their provision of discounted washing powder and flavourless tomatoes? Or should we all be pumping the smell of fresh bread thorugh the stacks?

In my opinion Quercus are easily the best new publisher around. They had the good sense and foresight to sign up Stieg Larsson (after he was dead but before he became famous) and have gone from strength to strength ever since. I wish them every possible success in the future.

Yggdrasil... I love you for your comment, and offer you the use of my wife.

well done Sainsbury's. Whilst I was browsing through your eye-catching display of current best sellers I asked a member of your staff where the scotch eggs were and he smiled and took me to the chill cabinet within a minute. Then off to the till with my selection and not a sign of that tiresome rigmarole with linksaves - just good honest down to earth service for the current marketplace.

Having read all your comments may I add a few of my own?
Doubtless most of those posting are 'in the industry' - I'm not, I'm part of the great unwashed who spend their hard-earned readies on books.

In my part of the world (East Anglia - for those in the Home counties, this is the big lump that sticks out above London) things are pretty dire right now. In my home town there has not been a 'good' bookshop for years, simply because there isn't the money around to support it. I have to go to Norwich or Lowestoft to find a chain bookshop.

Thus for those in my home town, someone like Sainsbury's is at least a starting point to get hold of the latest popular titles. Sneer all you want at their gaining this award - at least they are actually selling the damned things......

Over to you!

I never thought I would see a prize for bookselling in the hands of Sainsburys. It's unbelievable and, quite frankly, a joke.

"Sneer all you want at their gaining this award - at least they are actually selling the damned things..."

I eagerly await Shell petrol stations receiving a Michelin star on the grounds that "it was 2am and I fancied a Ginsters pasty".

The fact that Sainsbury are even qualified to be nominated is bad enough but to win the GENERAL/ CHAIN BOOKSELLER OF THE YEAR, is an outrage to Booksellers. I really do think that the trade has gone bonkers and I fear led by publishers counting their sales whilst the real Booksellers wither on the vine. If anybody wants to mark the final demise of the stockholding booktrade do so with this award. Surely a Bookseller is someone who stocks and sells books as their principal product . Books represent less than 0.5% of Sainsbury's turnover which makes them exploiters of best sellers. They shouldn't be in the BA never mind award winners.

This is truly shameful. For all the reasons expressed above.

With stockholding booksellers finding every day difficult to make ends meet to cede a 'bookselling' prize to s supermarket is a disgrace. The Bookseller should be ashamed to be associated with this award. Could we see a rationale for the decision?

The BS journalists should now name the individuals who gave the award to Sainsbury's.

How appropriate that this award is given to Sainsbury's on the same day that Mary Portas is appointed to review the current state and decline of the uk high street.

The booktrade mandarins have really shot themselves in the foot.

I can tell you who voted the award to Sainsbury's ...publishers for sure . Afterall a sale is a sale isn't it ?You guys will think me overreacting but this is a pivotal moment,- booksellers are now so insignificant to publishers that they vote for a bl**dy grocer, who to their eternal shame is a full member of the BA. There is a BIG difference between a bookseller, and someone who sells books .[Because although their book sales are large and growing they represent a really tiny% of any supermarket's business mix and therefore can drop the product by Friday ]. I can moan and groan but the BA have never responded to the supermarkets membership [even on the Council]issue.
Fortunately for them I am now no longer requested to sign big cheques for company membership .

There is no secrecy surrounding who the judges are or what the judging process involves. We reported who the judges were back in February: on the retail side it was David Roche, Damian Horner, Kate Mosse and Paul Smiddy.
We also published a 36-page awards supplement given out on the night and included with this week's edition of The Bookseller. Included in this is two-page spread on the judges, as well as pages related to the individual winners.
Regarding Sainsbury's the page begins: "Some will see this category winner as evidence that supermarkets are edging out dedicated booksellers, but others will regard it as proof that companies like Sainsbury's are now a welcome part of the book retail mainstream. The award recognises recent efforts by Sainsbury's to push deeper into books." Instead of cannibalising sales, Sainsbury's was "expanding the market as a whole, the judges concluded".
I wasn't involved in the judging, and didn't know who the winners were until they were revealed on the night. The enthusiasm displayed by the Sainsbury's books team was palpable, and even a rival told me afterwards that though they did not approve of the award going to the supermarket, they had heard very good things about that book team.
Julian sees this as a pivotal moment, but I think it is more a case of the book trade continually challenging itself in how and where best to sell books: from Ted Smart to Amazon, people like to sell books in new ways, finding new customers, and generally do so without necessarily disadvantaging other booksellers.
We should congratulate ourselves for being a part of this vibrant business that can turn general retailers into booksellers.
If you read the BBC's Will Gompertz his takeaway from the evening was not that supermarkets are taking over, but that the awards recognised booksellers. As he wrote: "But the awards for which the room gave the loudest and longest applause were for the nation's booksellers."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13425666

Philip, all fair points but just to highlight a few things.

Firstly the general public will have no idea how this award has been judged, so when Sainsbury's advertise that they are the Chain Bookselling Company of the year I'm not sure they will have the Bookseller Supplement to hand to explain the rationale - more likely they will think Bookselling has just gone to the dogs if two bays next to the pork pies is as good as it gets!!

Secondly how can Sainsbury's have expanded the market if the market has shrunk, or is it that all the shrinking was the cause of the other Booksellers?

Finally - none of the judges currently work in the Trade so where the proof that Sainsbury's is a welcome part of the book retail mainstream has come from I am not sure?

However, never one to shrink from a challenge I have just ranged one pack of fudge in my shop - next to cooking so a clear adjacency. This is much less than 1% of the range but as Sainsbury's carry less than that in Books I expect to carry the title Fudge seller of the year with ease. I will report back.

Some good points Philip . Better "Supermarket Bookseller of the Year" , then ?

Sainsbury's won 'chain bookseller of the year' award because we don't actually have a good 'chain bookseller' anymore in the UK.

The short list nominations for "General or Chain Bookseller of the Year" were Asda, Foyles, Sainsbury's, Waterstone's, and W H Smith.

I'm sure most *impartial* observers would not place Sainsbury's in pole position.

It won the "General or Chain Bookselling Company of the Year". So it's open to booksellers other than chains, too. And thanks Julian, perhaps next year the Julian Rivers Bookseller of the Year?

Without Sainsburys, I would have had to pay Gardners prices for my Jamie Oliver stock last Christmas.

So much passion...and few even in the bookselling world will a) read these comments and react like Julian (and I think his reaction is fair...) b) contribute to the debate...that m'thinks is the problem is it not? Sadly this will become a small pip in a Jamie Oliver stir fry...now where is that darned garlic?

Oh and it really shows how the UK mass book market has moved.....even W H Smug didn't get the award...

Seriously, even though they are chains, and even though they are general shops,how do Sainsburys, or Asdas, or Tescos qualify for "Bookseller of the Year"? They are not booksellers. My shop sells chocolate. We are not qualified to be Newsagent, or Supermarket, or Sweetie shop at the top of the Road... these are all brilliantly taken care of by the relevant shops. When you read this in conjunction with the article about how publishers should be helping indie bookshops (or possible now even chain shops) to survive on the high street this is a total and ridiculous farce...

You don't see many sweetshops these days do you?

People prefer to buy their sweets with the rest of their shopping.

Not the point...people may buy their sweeties from Asdas or wherever, but Asdas isn't a sweetie shop it's a supermarket...you might buy your Jodie Piccoult from Sainsbury's but it's not a bookshop...sigh...

but surely it's OK because Tim Godfray at the BA says we should all adapt the "Dunkirk Spirit"! How old does he think booksellers are in the UK...and what kind of managagement strategy is that I wonder.

Delighted to see Robert Kirby of United Agents getting recognised as agent of the year - a real enthusiast and a gentleman who has a keen eye for an opportunity, often long before others see it. Congratulations Robert.
Peter O'Connell

Oh dear this is getting bit silly now . A Bookseller is a business that sells books as it's main source of revenue, has staff with knowledge of books, can identify a NYP and record an order. Can get a unstocked item supplied, and can probably sell you a Booktoken . Can Sainsbury or Tesco or Asda do ANY of these things ? As stated they should not be full members of the BA , maybe associate members .?

As far as Supermarkets encouraging reading is concerned , non better than OXFAM for that , who I hope will win on the same basis next year .[Except their staff know books].

At the 1983 B.A conference Willie Anderson berated Walker books for selling childrens books to Sainsbury , in 2011 they are voted Bookseller of the Year . Neither are correct .

So, I guess in future when a customer asks me if there is another bookshop in the vicinity, to be truthful, I'll have to send them 5 doors down from our shop. Yeah, I suppose they're just *displaying* When God was a Rabbit and Finkler, not cannibalising my sales at all.

Philip Jones' tepid defence of this award misses the point entirely, and is emblematic of how publishers lose their way in their fawning desperation to sell.

The point is, we can 'allow' Sainsbury's to sell books for us and we can all enjoy seeing the financial return from their sales put back into publishing, but any rational bookseller/reader/publisher must treat Sainsbury's with the disdain they deserve because they don't care one jot about publishing / books / readers.

To applaud and award them with accolades is utterly absurd and innappropriate.

Sadly, too many weak minded publishers allow themselves to be exploited when it is they that should be exploiting Sainsburys.

Publishers and The Bookseller need to really man up here, Sainsburys will hang you all out to dry and toss you aside in a minute. See also UK farmers & dairy product.

Thank God for Clive Keeble and Julian Rivers - their comments make me feel I haven't totally lost my sanity in the Alice in Wonderland world of bookselling.
Just think, I could have paid £180 plus travel & expenses for the privilege of witnessing the travesty of a so-called "awards" ceremony which lauds Sainsburys as a "bookseller"; listened to Jamie Byng tell his disciples what a fantastic success it was to give away a million free books and plunge the book trade into the worse two months of trading in a decade - so we better give away another 500,000 next year; and marvel at the genius of Dominic Myers, the MD of a chain ewhich is currently up for grabs from the lowest bidder, calling for more initiatives of a similar type.
Philip Jones writes: "people like to sell books in new ways, finding new customers, and generally do so without necessarily disadvantaging other booksellers. We should congratulate ourselves for being a part of this vibrant business that can turn general retailers into booksellers."
Excuse me while I vomit. "without necessarily disadvantaging other booksellers..." Philip obviously hasn't noticed the reports tucked away in the back pages of his own magazine which over the last 5 years has charted the precipitous decline of the independent bookselling sector - despite the BA's annual orwellian statistical trick of balancing "openings" of new shops against "closures" to cover up the painful truth. And isn't everyone predicting that Waterstone's will be forced to close between a third and half its branches, whoever it is sold to? Could there perhaps be a connection between the year on year inexorable growth in share by the supermarkets and amazon, and the imminent collapse of high street bookselling?
If Matthew & Sarah Clarke are throwing in the towel, the rest of us would be wise to form an orderly queue.

It would be interesting to know how many booksellers - ie not buyers or marketing people - attended the Bookseller awards.

only about a dozen or so....
but Bookshops only join the BA to access Book Tokens....

Remarkable. I started work for Sainsbury's in October last year after the bookshop I was working in started redundancy proceedings against me. Now I'm working for the nation's top bookseller and I haven't had to restock the books section even once...

In answer to those asking whether or not Sainsbury's employees (or colleagues, as they call us) know our books, the answer's yes, some of us do — we're just working in different departments...