2018 Winners

Books of the Year

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    Fiction: Début Book of the Year and Overall Winner
    The judges for this year’s Fiction: Début Book of the Year praised both the writing and the publishing of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and said the combination made it a clear winner. The novel was “absolutely hilarious”, “literary and commercial” and struck an “amazing balance between light and dark”, while the campaign to promote it was “beautifully done”, they said.
  • Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
    Fourth Estate
    Fiction Book of the Year
    McGregor’s dazzling novel about a missing girl was his first with Fourth Estate. The publisher was determined that the novel would be an “event publication” rather than a “quiet literary success”. The Fiction Book of the Year judges believed that Fourth Estate achieved its aims, saying: “They set out exactly what they wanted to do: bring his work to a wider readership, reverse his declining sales and win a major prize. McGregor was sliding towards the midlist and they have pushed him back up.”
  • The Dry by Jane Harper
    Fiction: Crime & Thriller
    The judges unanimously praised Harper’s novel, which one describes as “an out-of-nowhere, word of mouth sensation that the publisher really capitalised on at the paperback stage”, adding: “The clever cover design helped position the title in its own unique space when much of the market is geared towards psychological thrillers.” Another said: “The Dry has it all: breathtaking and page-turning pace, a sympathetic if mysterious main character, and a singularly unique and exotic setting.”
  • 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver
    Michael Joseph
    Non-Fiction: Lifestyle Book of the Year
    Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook has so far racked up sales of 944,916 copies, and is shifting around 3,000–4,000 a week through Nielsen BookScan. Oliver came up with the idea for a collection of recipes using only five ingredients in 2017, after being inspired by the public on social media. The judges of the Non-Fiction: Lifestyle category praised both the content and the design; one said: “The concept works for all kinds of people and it has opened up cookbooks to people who wouldn’t normally buy cookbooks.”
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    Non-Fiction: Narrative Book of the Year
    The judges of the Non-Fiction: Narrative category said Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race was “fascinating”, “brilliant” and “breathtaking”, and one described the deal as a “very, very smart acquisition” for Bloomsbury, which “added value to the book: it could have been consigned to obscurity if it wasn’t packaged right”. The author played her part, speaking at more than 40 events in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands, and posing for the front cover of Stylist magazine.
  • La Belle Sauvage written by Philip Pullman, narrated by Michael Sheen
    Penguin Random House UK Audio
    Audiobook of the Year
    Described as "the best piece of narration I’ve ever heard", the audiobook edition of La Belle Sauvage enthralled this year’s judges thanks to Michael Sheen’s exemplary narratory skills. Pullman himself chose Sheen to read La Belle Sauvage, which returns to the world of the His Dark Materials trilogy, then worked with the actor to ensure the various accents and pronunciations were performed correctly.
  • The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Hamish Hamilton; Walker Books
    Children's Book of the Year (joint winners)
    The Lost Words is a large-format, beautifully illustrated hymn to nature. The Bookseller’s Fiona Noble, said: “Given the format, Macfarlane and Morris have achieved something extraordinary. The book has captured imaginations and hearts and I love how the words and pictures come together.” The Hate U Give was a ”game changer for both YA fiction and BAME publishing”, according to this year’s Children’s Book of the Year judges, who described the début novel from US author Angie Thomas as both timely and essential. There was a genuine split in the judges’ room, with the panel unanimous that both books should win.
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Great People

  • Philip Pullman
    Author of the Year
    In 2017 Philip Pullman returned to the world of Lyra Belacqua, 22 years after readers were first introduced to the hugely influential His Dark Materials trilogy. La Belle Sauvage was the event book of the year; it gave Pullman his first ever Official UK Top 50 number one and was the 10th-bestselling book of 2017, as well as winning the Waterstones Book of the Year—the first children’s title to do so. It also cemented Pullman’s reputation as a writer who spoke to both adults and children, a writer who could please critics and book-buyers. Pullman is now among the top 10 all-time bestselling children’s authors in the UK. But it is also his commitment to authors and campaigning that makes him the standout choice for this award: he has served as president of the Society of Authors since 2013, taking vocal positions on the importance of paying authors fairly, the value of independent bookshops and literacy. As Waterstones' managing director James Daunt has said: "The importance of Philip Pullman to the cause of reading cannot be overstated."
  • Axel Scheffler
    Illustrator of the Year
    German-born illustrator Axel Scheffler is the first ever winner of The British Book Awards’ Illustrator of the Year. He has illustrated more than a hundred books for a range of different publishers and though it is through his ongoing collaboration with Julia Donaldson that he has become one of the UK’s most well-known (and loved) illustrators. From The Gruffalo to Stick Man, Scheffler’s interpretation of Donaldson’s characters are instantly recognisable, turning the stories into modern classics. The duo’s titles have sold 48 million copies worldwide. The illustrator's dedication to important causes includes active support of literacy charities, environmental and conservation charities and charities offering support for the refugee crisis. He has also had a word (or image) to say about Brexit: through political artwork, exhibitions and media interviews, Scheffler seeks to promote the benefits of a compassionate world. He articulates how children’s books are one of the UK’s most successful exports, and how their universality demonstrates the power and importance of sharing stories across continents.
  • Tim Hely Hutchinson
    Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade
    Former Hachette UK chief executive Tim Hely Hutchinson is the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade award. Hely Hutchinson bowed out at the top of his game at the end of 2017, having created a legacy over his 40-year career that will endure for many decades to come. For almost all of his career, Hely Hutchinson has been a pivotal player in the publishing business. Hachette Livre c.e.o. Arnaud Nourry praised him—at his retirement party—for making Hachette's new office Carmelite House a "place where staff and authors are honoured and valued and where everyone feels empowered to create their best work". There are few executives still working in publishing today who have managed to combine longevity with success; leadership with understanding; steel with warmth. His contribution to the book trade has not just been outstanding, it has been shaping, nurturing and inspiring.
  • Simon Prosser
    Hamish Hamilton
    Editor of the Year
    Simon Prosser marked his 20th anniversary at Hamish Hamilton last year, and rarely can he have had as much commercial and critical success to celebrate. The imprint with which he has become synonymous had a stellar 2017, and Prosser’s creative vision and risk-taking commissioning was behind it. Hamish Hamilton had two of the six books on the Man Booker Prize shortlis and four of its titles reached the longlist—a record for an imprint. Other successes included The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris and acclaimed books from Hari Kunzru, Yiyun Li and Helon Habila. “Simon had a remarkable year—a just reward for all his creativity and originality,” said the judges. “Making purely literary publishing work can be a hard road, but he makes it look easy.”
  • Madeleine Milburn
    Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency
    Literary Agent of the Year
    In a closely fought category, it was a combination of prolific deal-making and long-term vision for her authors that secured this award for Madeleine Milburn. Her star books in 2017 included one of the smashes of the year: Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. She handled six-figure auctions for débuts from Annie Ward and Melanie Golding and film and TV deals for Holly Bourne, C L Taylor and Honeyman. The judges said: “It was Madeleine’s year. The care of her authors is exemplary. It’s clear she goes the extra mile for them. She spots opportunities that others don’t, and takes them in interesting directions.” They also admired the way she has juggled her deals with building her business, launched only six years ago, but already a major force in publishing.
  • Karine Marko
    The Quarto Group
    Rights Professional of the Year
    The rights operation at illustrated publisher Quarto is one of the UK’s biggest—and group rights director Karine Marko had it firing on all cylinders in 2017. Her team delivered a record year of revenue, striking thousands of deals with more than 500 partners around the world. Marko has ensured that Quarto retains a personal approach to rights. She takes the long-term view on partnerships, ensuring books are paired with the right publishers and tailoring solutions for each of them. The judges admired her combination of prolific day-to-day deal-making and strategic thinking about Quarto’s rights. “This is a huge operation to manage, but Karine has a great clarity of vision and a sharp focus on every deal,” they said. “She’s a talented and inspiring leader of a super-slick team, and she does the hard yards on deals too.”
  • Greig Watt
    Individual Bookseller of the Year
    Greig Watt’s triumph means Blackwell’s has won this award—and its previous incarnation, Young Retailer of the Year—for four years in a row. For its recent resurgence, the chain has inspirational managers like Watt to thank. Campus bookselling isn’t easy at the moment, and Watt’s store at the University of Aberdeen was at risk of closure when he became manager in 2015. But he has since transformed it into one of the chain’s most respected locations. “Greig’s commitment is incredible, and it’s really paid off,” judges said. “He’s reinvigorated the shop floor and made colleagues enjoy bookselling again . . . He’s typical of the new mission and drive at Blackwell’s.”
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Publishing Success

  • HarperCollins for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    Marketing Strategy of the Year
    Critically and commercially, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was one of the biggest début hits of 2017—and HarperCollins’ creative, co-ordinated and committed marketing strategy was one of the main reasons why. The book was the second-bestselling fiction début of the year, with sales nearing 300,000 copies, and it started 2018 by winning the Costa First Novel Award. HarperCollins seized the book with passion,” said the judges. “The fantastically strong trade marketing showed the intent to make it a bestseller, and the well-focused consumer campaign drove it through. It had a big budget, but the results were even bigger—it reached every part of the market.”
  • Rosi Crawley and Emma Draude
    Walker Books; ED Public Relations
    Publicity Campaign of the Year
    The publicity campaign from Walker’s Rosi Crawley and Emma Draude of ED Public Relations helped make The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas the biggest YA début of 2017, and one of its most talked-about titles too. The strategy quickly hit its core YA market, via work on social media and with bloggers. But it also took the book into communities rarely represented in fiction and adult media too. “This is a great success story in a market where it’s not easy to make an impact,” judges said. “It was a phenomenal campaign which achieved a huge amount of coverage and provided an outstanding base for the marketing and sales teams. They nailed everything they set out to do, and the community engagement made it extra special.”
  • Maths—No Problem!
    Academic, Educational & Professional Publisher of the Year
    Maths—No Problem! is a prime example of how indie start-ups can flourish in the niches of the education market. It has quickly established its books in UK schools and can already claim to have had a transformative impact on teaching methods and pupil results. Last year it became the only UK publisher recommended by the Department for Education for primary schools’ mastery programme, contributing to spectacular sales growth in 2017. The Bookseller’s panel of judges was hugely impressed by its "David and Goliath" story, and said: “This is a company with a singular vision and a lot of style. It was born out of a real need for its resources, and having spotted a gap in the UK schools market it has gone at it full pelt.”
  • Bloomsbury Children's Books
    Children's Publisher of the Year
    Two Costa Awards, the bestselling début fiction and general non-fiction books, and sharp growth across e-books, audio and rights as well as print—Bloomsbury had a stellar year even before one considers the biggest book series of modern times: Harry Potter. In all, Bloomsbury achieved a sixth successive year of turnover and profit growth, a hike of a third in TCM sales, and similar growth in exports. “The sales numbers are impressive, with or without Harry Potter,” said the judges. “It did brilliantly with the backlist, but there was a lot of newness too—it feels like it is constantly driving forwards.”
  • Viking
    Imprint of the Year
    Striking a balance of commercial success and critical acclaim is the ultimate aim of all literary-minded mainstream imprints—and none did it better in 2017 than Viking. Penguin General, of which Viking is the largest part, recorded its highest ever sales. Literary awards included the Baileys Prize, the Rathbones Folio Prize and Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The judges said: “It’s an imprint that is really in tune with its market...it taps into popular trends but pushes boundaries in every way.” Judges also liked its fusion of traditional publishing values with very modern sensibilities—or as one put it: “Old-school publishing at its most impactful.”
  • Faber & Faber
    Independent Publisher of the Year
    In both commercial and critical terms, 2017 was one of Faber’s best years yet. Financially, it was Faber’s most successful year ever, with sales and profit both up. That was driven not by one or two blockbusters, but by steady growth across the fiction, non-fiction and children’s frontlists, and by sales of its rich backlist. A string of high-calibre awards included the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Costa Novel of the Year. “A great performance across the board with some highly impactful publishing—there are no weak links,” said the judges.
  • HarperCollins
    Publisher of the Year
    HarperCollins marked its 200th anniversary in 2017, and celebrated with perhaps the most widespread and sustained success in its history. It wins this award for the first time since 2012 after a stellar year across adult, children’s, educational, digital and audio publishing. “HarperCollins is a 200-year-old brand, yet completely of the 21st century,” said The British Book Awards judges. “It had an exceptional 2017 in so many ways—from big brands to new names, super-commercial to high literary, and bestsellers to prize winners. You have a clear sense of what it stands for and where it’s going . . . It’s at the very top of its game.”
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Bringing Books to Readers

  • The Book Nook
    Children's Bookseller of the Year
    The Book Nook in Hove wins this award for the second time in four years. Judges admired the huge breadth of The Book Nook’s work, its double-digit sales growth in 2017, and its support of lesser-known children’s authors and publishers as well as the usual big names. “The shop has a deep understanding of the world of children’s books, and a passionate commitment to it,” they said. “Yes, it has a great market on its doorstep, but it never takes its customers for granted—it’s reaching out to parents and children and taking a proper interest in what they want. You can tell the team never stands still . . . For a well-established business, its growth in 2017 was extremely impressive.”
  • Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
    Independent Bookshop of the Year
    Founded five years ago, Five Leaves has all the trappings of a top independent: superb service, stock that is finely tuned to its market, a thriving book group, a packed events programme and effective local partnerships. “This is a very good bookshop—but so much more,” said the judges. “Five Leaves is clearly as much about the act of reading and growing literacy as it is about running a business.” They admired its passion and desire to contribute to cultural, political and social debate—while having fun along the way. “It’s genuinely collaborative, generous and public-spirited and has a stack of energy . . . Five Leaves is a very high-class literary bookseller indeed—long may it prosper.”
  • Blackwell's
    Book Retailer of the Year
    It is four years since Blackwell’s won this award, but in 2017 it confirmed itself as a resurgent force in British bookselling. The 139th year of Blackwell’s trading saw it outpace book sales growth as measured by Nielsen BookScan by some distance. Crucially, that growth has been spread evenly around the business: across its high street bookshops, campus stores, institutional and corporate channels, and website alike. The awards judges said: “It’s terrific for everyone that Blackwell’s is properly back in the game. The DNA of the business is fabulous and the booksellers are exceptional . . . It’s gathered itself together and has a very strong sense of where it’s headed.”
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