Imprint of the Year | British Book Awards 2021
Publishers’ imprints were forced into some pretty dramatic changes in 2020, but quickly adapted to new ways of working together and promoting and selling books. These ten imprints—no fewer than six of them from the Hachette group—all clicked with readers too, providing both escapism and practical support in an unsettling year, and consolidating their distinctive personalities along the way.
Gollancz has ploughed its science fiction and fantasy furrow at Orion for more than two decades, but last year the imprint flourished like never before. Its escapist publishing perfectly met the need for diversions in a year of lockdowns, and sales jumped by more than 50%. It published nearly a third of 2020’s biggest sellers in its genres, led by Ben Aaronovitch’s False Value, and there was renewed energy in backlist—not least in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher novels after a popular Netflix adaptation. It had a crop of award winners too, including M John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again at the Goldsmiths.
By launching the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award, it led a much-needed drive to diversify SFF publishing. Beyond print, audio sales doubled and a record number of film and TV deals were signed. Care of its authors was excellent, and marketing and publicity work pivoted brilliantly to digital platforms.
Its win is a triumph for often overlooked genre fiction imprints, and demonstrates how publishing does not always need household names or a large team to produce big numbers.
“There’s a real energy about the team, and you always know when you’re holding a Gollancz book—which is one of the points of an imprint,” said the judges. “It’s an old list that keeps itself fresh and exciting, and it rose to the occasion magnificently in 2020… this was its year.”
Yellow KiteHodder & Stoughton