30 from 30

What is the 30 from 30 award?

For 30 years the British Book Awards have celebrated and rewarded everything that is good about British publishing through its big, successful and prize-winning books. This is an opportunity to relive a few memories of these past three decades to cherish, the books, authors, illustrators, agents and publishers that brought them to market, and the booksellers and librarians that sought out readers for them. This is our way of acknowledging the wider import of these titles, many of which launched careers, defined genres, or simply enabled their publishers to breathe again.

 Ten titles on the shortlist were whittled down from 30 of the best and most iconic books to have picked up a Nibbie—from Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence (1990) to Normal People by Sally Rooney (2019)—and the 11th comes as a “wildcard” entry: a book that did not win a Nibbie in the year of its success, but perhaps ought to have.

With thanks: The Bookseller compiled the list with help from book trade historian Maria Vassilopoulos.  

Vote below, tweet using #30from30 or email 30from30@thebookseller.com and share your memories of the shortlist.
Who is your winner of the 30 from 30?

The Shortlist

  • 5 Ingredients
    Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph)
    This is not Jamie Oliver’s biggest book sales-wise, or perhaps even his most memorable, but it is the title that re-established the brand and launched a new trend in “simple” books for amateur cooks, a theme that was matched by its superlative design.
  • Bridget Jones's Diary
    Helen Fielding (Picador)
    Helen Fielding’s book, which began as a column in the Independent and was released by Picador, is widely credited with launching the “chick-lit” genre. It was funny, sharp and on the money: the tag may seem dated, but the book is not.
  • The Da Vinci Code
    Dan Brown (Transworld)
    There is one book every few years that breaks out beyond the core book-buying audience, resulting in a sales trajectory like no other—to the delight of booksellers all over. For most of the mid-Noughties, Dan Brown’s book crested that wave for Transworld.
  • The Gruffalo's Child
    Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)
    The Gruffalo did not win a Nibbie, but its follow-up did, and deservedly so: with life sales through Nielsen of more than two million copies, it continues to sell strongly for Macmillan, with annual sales in 2019 of 80,000 copies.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    J K Rowling (Bloomsbury)
    J K Rowling’s book, published by Bloomsbury, launched a franchise that now extends into film, theatre, gaming, theme parks, and, um, other books. Its life sales are close to six million copies through Nielsen BookScan and its Nibbie win came in 1998.
  • The Lost Words
    Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton)
    A modern classic? Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ book wasn’t the first beautifully illustrated oversized title to grace the trade, but it was the first to break out beyond the trade, with funds crowd-sourced to get the book into schools.
  • Northern Lights
    Philip Pullman (Scholastic)
    Lyra Belacqua’s first outing came in Philip Pullman’s densely packed opener for the His Dark Materials series— published by Scholastic—which now stretches into film, television and an “equel” series, The Book of Dust.
  • White Teeth
    Zadie Smith (Penguin)
    White Teeth established Zadie Smith as a writer to watch, and she has not looked back. The Penguin-published book won multiple honours, including the Whitbread and Guardian First Book Award. The novel won Smith the Newcomer of the Year Nibbie in 2001.
  • Wild Swans
    Jung Chang (William Collins)
    An absolute game-changer in terms of the modern memoir, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans told us much about China through its tale of three generations of women, but it also established the market for serious, outward-looking narrative non-fiction.
  • Wolf Hall
    Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
    This title is the only Booker Prize-winner on the shortlist, which tells you as much about the Booker as it does about the Nibbies. Mantel is one of the best and most deserving writers published in the past 30 years. Mantel's Nibbie win was in 2010.
  • WILDCARD: This is Going to Hurt
    Adam Kay (Picador)
    This is a groundbreaking book that launched the seemingly unstoppable “memoirs that matter” trend. Adam Kay narrowly missed out on a Nibbie - and it must have hurt. So, we have invited him back for another try...

The Longlist

  • A Year in Provence
    Peter Mayle
  • Delia Smith's Christmas
  • Wild Swans
    Jung Chang
  • The Art Book
  • Longitude
    Dava Sobel
  • Northern Lights
    Philip Pullman
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    J.K. Rowling
  • Bridget Jones's Diary
    Helen Fielding
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin
    Louis de Bernieres
  • The Illustrated Mum
    Jacqueline Wilson
  • Sahara
    Michael Palin
  • Brick Lane
    Monica Ali
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
    Mark Haddon
  • The Lovely Bones
    Alice Sebold
  • The Da Vinci Code
    Dan Brown
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns
    Khaled Hosseini
  • Breaking Dawn
    Stephenie Meyer
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Stieg Larsson
  • The Gruffalo's Child
    Julia Donaldson
  • The Sound of Laughter
    Peter Kay
  • White Teeth
    Zadie Smith
  • Dreams From My Father
    Barack Obama
  • Wolf Hall
    Hilary Mantel
  • One Day
    David Nicholls
  • How to Be a Woman
    Caitlin Moran
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    Gail Honeyman
  • Normal People
    Sally Rooney
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
    EL James
  • The Lost Words: A Spell Book
    Robert McFarlane
  • 5 Ingredients
    Jamie Oliver

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