2019 Winners

Books of the Year

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
    Faber & Faber
    Fiction Book of the Year and Overall WINNER
    Rooney’s tale of two college friends growing up in Dublin was called “beautifully observed and profoundly moving” by Alice O’Keeffe, books editor of The Bookseller, who revealed it was “unanimously praised” by the judges. “It really is an exceptional novel from one of the most exciting young writers we have,” O’Keeffe said. Fellow judge Brett Woolstencroft, manager at Daunt Books, described Normal People as “ that rare thing, a sublime work of literary fiction which appeals to all because it exquisitely renders a universal experience – being young, finding love, friendship and ultimately a sense of self. Add a wonderful cover and well-judged promotion, and you have a phenomenon.” Waterstones fiction buyer Bea Carvalho, another judge, called it "fiction at its brightest and most relatable: clever yet unpretentious, literary yet highly approachable...that rare gift of a novel which can be enjoyed by readers of all tastes."
  • Lullaby by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor
    Faber & Faber
    Book of the Year - Fiction: Début WINNER
    Lullaby took Debut of the Year. The thriller, about a nanny in Paris, by winning Franco-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani and translated by Sam Taylor, beat novels including Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (Harvill Secker) and Ruth Jones’s Never Greener (Bantam Press) in a hotly contested category.
  • Our House by Louise Candlish
    Simon & Schuster
    Book of the Year - Crime & Thriller WINNER
    In Crime & Thriller, Louise Candlish’s mystery novel Our House (Simon & Schuster) beat heavyweights Ian Rankin and Jo Nesbo and controversial author A J Finn, a.k.a. book editor Dan Mallory. Candlish’s psychological thriller, about the dissolution of a marriage, marked a return to form for the author’s sales, selling 107,000 copies for £637,000 according to Nielsen BookScan.
  • The Ice Monster by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross
    HarperCollins Children's Books
    Book of the Year - Children's Fiction WINNER
    The Children’s Fiction category winner, The Ice Monster, was described as “gloriously, snortily funny” by judge Tina Gaisford-Waller, of Hunting Raven Books, and readers agreed – it took £5m through sales of 714,000, according to Nielsen BookScan. Gaisford-Waller said of Walliams that “the danger in overlooking Walliams on account of his celebrity is that he misses out on the critical recognition he sorely deserves on account of his talent”. Walliams beat fellow HarperCollins author David Baddiel, who was shortlisted for Head Kid (illustrated by Steve Lenton) as well as industry stalwart Jacqueline Wilson’s My Mum Tracy Beaker (Doubleday, illustrated by Nick Sharratt).
  • You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed, illustrated by Toby Triumph
    Wren & Rook
    Book of the Year - Children's Illustrated & Non-Fiction WINNER
    In the newly introduced Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction category, You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed (Wren & Rook, illustrated by Toby Triumph) took the crown, with a Highly Commended given by the judges to Usborne’s Politics for Beginners. Judge Dr Ranj described You Are Awesome as "accessible, practical and useful in so many ways", while he said of Politics for Beginners: "Complex concepts are beautifully illustrated and explained, making this title hard to put down."
  • BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby
    Book of the Year - Non-Fiction: Lifestyle WINNER
    vegan cookbook Bosh! (HQ), by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, won Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, lauded as “an exemplary piece of publishing” by writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner. The YouTube presenters won the award in a starry category, beating chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Tom Kerridge, as well as titles with a more political slant, such as Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible (4th Estate) by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke. Bosh! sold 185,000 for £2.3m altogether, according to Nielsen BookScan. Writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner called HQ's work on the book "an exemplary piece of publishing", saying: "The team at HQ helped two unknown lads who had been investigating the joys of non-meat cookery to creative a massive, vibrant seller which isn't about appealing to niche dietary requirements, but just about great food."
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
    Viking, Penguin
    Book of the Year - Non-Fiction: Narrative WINNER
    Becoming beat Michael Wolff’s White House exposé Fire and Fury (Little, Brown) and Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love (Fig Tree) to take the Non-Fiction: Narrative award. The former First Lady’s memoir has shifted 653,000 copies for £9.7m, according to Nielsen BookScan, and “stood out head and shoulders above the competition as it powerfully shares both the personal and the political”, according to writer and critic Anita Sethi, a category judge.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
    Penguin Random House Audio
    Book of the Year - AudioBook WINNER
    The audiobook version of Becoming (Penguin Random House Audio) – narrated by Obama herself – won Audiobook of the Year. It triumphed over Ben Whishaw’s telling of the late Stephen Hawking’s final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions (John Murray) and Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White, narrated by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio).
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Great People

  • Lee Child
    Author of the Year
  • Judith Kerr
    Illustrator of the Year
  • Tim Godfray
    Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade
    Tim Godfray was recognised for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade ahead of his retirement this autumn after 35 years as chief executive at the Booksellers Association. Described as “a tireless leader and an active and engaged role model for his colleagues,” by BA m.d. Meryl Halls, Godfray has continuously challenged Amazon, lobbying the Competition and Markets Authority and Directorate-General for Competition, while showing longstanding commitment to the BA and its members. He became the BA’s executive chair in April 2018 which he juggles alongside numerous other roles including a directorship of Book Tokens. Halls added: “His deep knowledge of bookselling has made him the go-to resource for booksellers, and his high standards and epic work ethic will ensure his legacy in the book trade for years to come.”
  • Rebecca Hill
    Usborne Publishing
    Editor of the Year
    Meanwhile Usborne’s Rebecca Hill became the first children’s publisher to win the Editor of the Year award. A Bookseller Rising Star of 2017, she followed up with the Branford Boase Award later that year with Mitch Johnson’s début, Kick. Will Hill’s After the Fire, which she edited, won the The Bookseller’s 2018 YA Book Prize and she had titles nominated for a clutch of other awards. This year she is longlisted for the Branford Boase for two books all while steering the success of established writers such as Holly Bourne. “It’s a brilliantly curated and successful fiction list… she’s breaking new ground for Usborne," judges said.
  • Cathryn Summerhayes
    Curtis Brown
    Literary Agent of the Year
    Cathryn Summerhayes’ “resourceful, imaginative” approach to making deals took the crown in the strongly-contested literary agent category. This is Going to Hurt – for which she played a central creative and commercial role - became the TCM’s top non-fiction title, selling more than half a million copies as well as spawning various upcoming projects which Summerhayes is navigating such as a 50-date live tour. She has also built an eclectic list, including authors such as Johanna Basford, Ranulph Fiennes, "Deliciously" Ella Mills and Kathy Reichs. Judges also paid tribute to her advocacy and care shown to other agents and authors.
  • Andrew Sharp
    Hachette Children's Group
    Rights Professional of the Year
    Andrew Sharp, of Hachette Children’s Group, won Rights Professional of the Year, after four appearances on the shortlist. His remit has grown hugely since joining Hodder Children’s Books as a rights executive in the late 1990s. Over 2018, his team sealed more than 800 deals, notched up three million co-edition sales, and served around 1,400 publishing partners.
  • Noor Hemani
    Lighthouse Bookshop
    Individual Bookseller of the Year
    Noor Hemani was named Individual Bookseller of the Year for helping develop one of the most diverse ranges in British bookselling. Spikes in the shop’s sales can often be correlated to her recommendations and handselling while she has also helped organise 180 events in 2018, pitching to publishers and shaping sessions at its Radical Book Fair.
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Publishing Success

  • HarperCollins for BOSH!
    Marketing Strategy of the Year
    Marketing Strategy of the Year went to Joanna Rose, Jen Callahan Packer and Jessica Hay at HarperCollins for their delivery of bestselling vegan cookbook BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby. Their “All Plants” campaign, which steered away from vegan associations, included "promotions tailored to different retailers, extensive social media activity and a festival-style event at Borough Market in London". HarperCollins identified a growing interest in the market and used every social media tool available to realise big sales,” said one British Book Awards judge.
  • Louise Court and Lucie Cuthbertson-Twiggs
    Harvill Secker, Vintage - The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
    Publicity Campaign of the Year
    Vintage publicists Louise Court and Lucie Cuthbertson-Twiggs were awarded Publicity Campaign of the Year for their passionate campaign for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, helping to make it the top-selling literary fiction hardback début of the year. They secured an afternoon off for all Vintage employees to read it, sent more than 1,000 proofs, scheduled author visits for more than 50 shops and a special walking tour of Georgian London for 30 booksellers. The campaign was called “a total masterclass” by judges.
  • Emerald Publishing
    Academic, Educational & Professional Publisher of the Year
    Emerald Publishing was singled out for its care of people – authors and staff alike – with the west Yorkshire-based company winning Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year. “This is obviously a great place to be published—a real go-to place for academics,” judges said. With a social sciences list featuring more than 3,000 books and 300 journals, Emerald had one of its best ever years in 2018, securing double-digit book sales growth and launching the Emerald Open Research platform, providing an open peer review process and free access to all.
  • Nosy Crow
    Children's Publisher of the Year
    Children’s Publisher of the Year went to Nosy Crow, for the second time in three years, rewarding its TCM sales boom of a third (32.9%), making it the 12th biggest children’s publisher just eight years after launching. The breadth of its publishing and formats, along with partnerships with companies such as John Lewis, the British Museum and the National Trust, saw it fly in 2018 with one retailer describing Nosy Crow as “inspirational publishers” who have “sparked a buzz of creativity across the industry”. Sales, rights and co-edition business all rose dramatically, with deals struck in 43 countries in all by the end of 2018.
  • Picador
    Imprint of the Year
    Picador took Imprint of the Year – for the second time in four years. Much of that came from Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt, which sold more than half a million copies—and Picador added around half as many units again through e-book and audiobook formats. There were successes right across the board, however, with the imprint hitting £1m in TCM sales in the poetry sector for the first time, thanks to authors ranging from Pam Ayers to John Cooper Clarke. Picador also took an eclectic range of prizes in 2018 as well as displaying marketing ingenuity, seen most strongly for The Secret Barrister.
  • Faber & Faber
    Independent Publisher of the Year
    Faber scooped Independent Publisher of the Year for the second year in a row, after taking the top prize at the IPG Independent Publishing Awards earlier this month, having “delivered commercial and critical success in equal measure”. The press enjoyed the best financial 12 months in its history, with a 14% jump in sales enough to make it the UK’s 12th biggest publisher in the TCM, in marked contrast to only a few years previously when it was languishing. Last year It had three books in the year-end TCM top 50: two from Sally Rooney, including this year’s Book of the Year Normal People, and Anna Burns’ Man Booker Prize-winning Milkman.
  • Penguin General
    Publisher of the Year
    For Publisher of the Year, among the most hotly contested of the categories, Penguin General claimed the prize “for a stellar year”, after coming in close in each of the last three years, growing its TCM sales by almost 30% and racking up 19 different books on the Sunday Times bestseller lists. Its leader of the pack, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, sold half a million copies in just six weeks to become the year’s biggest hardback while “the social impacts of Penguin’s publication and associated events were just as significant,” judges said. The publisher was praised across the board: for its narrative non-fiction imprint, Penguin Life, for commercial fiction including building Cara Hunter into a major crime fiction brand, as well as for the more literary end of the spectrum, with industry stalwarts such as Pat Parker and Jonathan Coe, debut voices including Sophie Mackintosh, and re-energising midlist authors like Elizabeth Strout. “Penguin General’s marketing, publicity and rights teams were firing on all cylinders,” the judges said. Strong collaboration with retailers was praised, along with “outstanding” author care. “This is a standard of imaginative professionalism to which all publishers should aspire, and which most authors can only dream about,” said one.
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  • Waterstones
    Children's Bookseller of the Year
    For Children's Bookseller of the Year Waterstones emerged victorious, for the first time since 2011. The chain generated big sales for the top children’s titles of 2018, and used creative launch activity to capitalise on J K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Little, Brown).
  • Golden Hare Books
    Independent Bookshop of the Year
    Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh nabbed the trophy for its stylish boutique-style store, its sharp growth in sales, and its capacity for innovation – including a book subscription service, collaborations with local businesses such as a Wine and Cheese Book Club with a nearby wine bar, and reading clinics with booksellers. “There’s an incredible energy and passion there—they must never sleep,” said the judges of Golden Hare’s team.
  • WHSmith Travel
    Book Retailer of the Year
    W H Smith Travel emerged victorious three years after previously taking the crown. Judges praised the company’s books strategy, how it grew book sales once more in 2018 and opened around 20 new stores in the UK and 60 internationally, while refreshing many others. “Three of those launches were standalone bookshops in major British travel hubs—a heartening sign that in a broadly flat market the business remains firmly committed to books,” judges said. As well as sales of the more predictable blockbusters, the chain “proved itself a genuine supporter of lesser-known voices, of fiction in translation, and of independent publishers, through schemes such as Fresh Talent and other promotions."
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