British Book Award for Export (£10m+)



This is a second 2021 Nibbie for Bloomsbury, alongside its Academic, Professional & Educational Publisher of the Year triumph.

It is given for double-digit growth for Bloomsbury’s fiction, non-fiction and children’s books in each of its key regions in 2020. Led by international sales director Sarah McLean, its team of 10 notched up five-figure open market sales for 17 adult books, led by Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Sarah J Maas’ House of Earth and Blood. They worked as hard on new names (Kiley Reid, Kalynn Bayron) as stalwarts such as Khaled Hosseini and Ann Patchett. On the children’s side, Camilla Reid and Ailie Busby’s Lulu series continues to be phenomenally popular, and more than two decades after the series arrived on the market, sales of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books were in year-on-year growth.

Bloomsbury’s team moved nimbly to remote selling during lockdowns, and used a Frankfurt Book Fair Book Bonanza to pitch to customers. Marketing and publicity initiatives, such as virtual author events and bespoke point-of sale and merchandise, were well received. There was also good work on logistical challenges around Covid and Brexit, and progress on the pressing issue of improving sustainability in the global supply chain.

Dozens of testimonials from export partners in the submission for this award show the esteem in which Bloomsbury is held around the world. “They always go all out to support our marketing and promotional efforts, and their enthusiasm is contagious,” said one, while another added: “Bloomsbury’s export team is the best I have met—creative, enthusiastic and professional.” Authors are impressed too: “There was no challenge they wouldn’t meet for me and my book… I’m incredibly grateful,” said one.

The Shortlist

  • Bloomsbury
    Responsible for fiction, non-fiction and children’s books in nearly 100 open markets and South Africa, Bloomsbury’s exports team switched very well to remote selling and virtual presentations when Covid hit. Well over two decades on from J K Rowling’s first book it is still carving out new sales for Harry Potter, and in 2020 it achieved stellar sales for Camilla Reid and Ailie Busby’s Lulu series of picture books. There were five-figure sales for 17 adult titles, led by Reni Eddo-Lodge’s agenda-setting Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, non-fiction from Rutger Bregman and Lisa Taddeo, and novels by Sarah J Maas, Elizabeth Gilbert and Madeline Miller. “They are dedicated, enthusiastic and real book lovers — I can’t recommend them highly enough,” said one testimonial.
  • HarperCollins
    HarperCollins’ 14-strong team in its exports division excelled with its teamwork and customer outreach in 2020, using a dedicated international trade website, author videos, digital assets and extensive mailings to make up for the absence of face-to-face meetings. Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light was the highlight of a very good year for fiction exports, along with renewed energy for many of HC’s big backlist author brands. A strategy of finding more non-fiction titles with global appeal is starting to pay dividends, as with Jay Shetty’s Think Like a Monk, which topped the charts in South Africa and India. The powerful children’s list was led around the world, as usual, by David Walliams, backed up by Oliver Jeffers and strengthened even further by the addition of the Egmont list.
  • Pan Macmillan
    The 2020 British Book Award for Export winner—not to mention the reigning Publisher of the Year—had a seventh successive year of growth in export markets. Sales to Australia and New Zealand were the highest ever, and the children’s list, spearheaded by the indefatigable Julia Donaldson, flourished in Asia. Fiction benefited from Booker winner Douglas Stuart, Toshikazu Kawaguchi and Picador’s deep range, while global brand authors including Ken Follett, Ann Cleeves, David Baldacci and Danielle Steel rolled on. A blockbuster campaign for Mariah Carey and the worldwide popularity of Joy at Work by Marie Kondo bolstered non-fiction. A few authors managed to tour overseas before the pandemic hit, but Pan Mac’s exports team switched quickly to virtual events to keep authors connected with territories worldwide.
  • Wonderbly
    Personalised books specialist Wonderbly has been an interna- tionally minded business from the get-go. The large majority of its turnover comes from beyond the UK, and it sold books to customers in 159 different countries worldwide in 2020, achieving six-figure sales in 16 of them. Occasion and TV-led marketing powered record sales in the US and Canada, its two biggest overseas markets, and there was especially good growth in Japan and France, its largest non-English market. Unusually for a publisher, Wonderbly handles all its translations in-house, and has now published more than 100 foreign-language editions. Alongside the strategy of creating original content in its own studios and its direct-to-consumer delivery model, it has a uniquely powerful grip on its sales and profitability around the world.