Overall Book of the Year Judges

  • Antonia Byatt

    Director, Cheltenham Literature Festival

    Antonia Byatt is Director of Cheltenham Literature festival the oldest festival in England and one of the largest in the world.  She was previously Director of Literature and South East at Arts Council England, Director of the Women’s Library, the biggest Women’s History collection in the UK and Head of Literature at Southbank Centre.

  • Shami Chakrabarti

    Human Rights Campaigner

    Shami Chakrabarti has been Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) since September 2003. She was born in London and studied Law at the London School of Economics. She is Chancellor of Essex University and a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple. She was also chosen as one of eight Olympic Flag carriers at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

    Shami's first book, On Liberty, was published by Allen Lane on October 2014.

  • Andrew Holgate

    Literary Editor, Sunday Times

    Andrew Holgate has been the Literary Editor of The Sunday Times since 2008. Amongst many other prizes and awards, he has previously been a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Orwell Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Award, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, and the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award.

  • Philip Jones

    Editor, The Bookseller

    Philip is editor of The Bookseller, a position he took up in August 2012. Before that he was deputy editor, having first joined the magazine in 1996. He was its web editor for 10 years, having helped launch thebookseller.com in 1998. He is a regular commentator on book trade matters on radio, TV and in the broadsheet newspapers. 

  • Rik McShane

    Retail director, Waterstones

    Starting as a weekend Christmas temp looking after audio books (then very much in cassette form) in the Cambridge bookshop in 1999 Rik has run the gamut of roles within Waterstones. From Managing shops of all sizes in London to various roles in Head office he is now very much enjoying his current role retail director. He still loves Georgette Heyer, nothing can persuade him otherwise.

  • Cathy Rentzenbrink

    Chair of Books of the Year

    Cathy is Contributing Editor at The Bookseller and the Director of Quick Reads at The Reading Agency. Her memoir The Last Act of Love was a Sunday Times bestseller and her next book will be published in 2017. Cathy speaks and writes regularly on literacy, literature and everything in between and is happiest when talking to strangers about books. She tweets as @Cathyreadsbooks.

  • Sarah Shaffi

    Deputy Chair of Books of the Year

    Sarah Shaffi is The Bookseller’s online editor and producer. She was previously senior reporter at The Bookseller.

  • Nina Stibbe


    Nina Stibbe was born in Leicester. She is the author of Love, Nina - which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award and won Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2014 National Book Awards and has been adapted for a television series to be screened on BBC1 this summer - and the novel Man at the Helm, which was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. Her novel Paradise Lodge will be published in June. She lives in Cornwall with her partner and two children.

Books of the Year Judges

  • Arifa Akbar

    Former literary editor, The Independent and i newspapers

    Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014. She has judged the Aesthetica Magazine new writing award (for short stories) for the past two years.

  • Sam Baker

    Author, co-founder and CEO, The Pool

    Sam Baker grew up in Hampshire and after a degree in politics at Birmingham University became a journalist. She has edited some of the UK’s biggest magazines, including Cosmopolitan, and was Editor in Chief of Red for six years. In 2015 she co-founded The Pool, the online platform that makes inspiring and original content for busy women. Her new novel, The Woman Who Ran, was published last month. Sam tweets as @sambaker.

  • Matthew Bates

    Travel fiction buyer, WH Smith

    Matt Bates is the Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel. He has been rated as one of the Top 1000 most influential Londoners in the Evening Standard, and is an Associate Vice President of the Romantic Novelists Association. In 2013 he judged the Historical Novelists Society International Award, and has contributed to book related articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Bookseller and Writers Forum magazine. In 2015 he was awarded Bookseller of the Year by the RNA.

  • Karen Brindle

    Buyer, Tesco

    Karen joined the Books team in 2015 having previously worked in a number of commercial roles within Tesco over the past 16 years. She has always loved reading so is enjoying being able to combine a personal passion with her professional role.


  • Alex Clark

    Journalist and broadcaster

    Alex Clark is a well-known literary journalist and broadcaster who writes for the Guardian, the Observer, the Times Literary Supplement and the Spectator. She is a regular on Radio 4, chairs numerous literary events and is an experienced judge of literary awards, including the 2008 Man Booker prize; she is currently chair of the Encore Award for a second novel. She lives in London.

  • Melissa Cox

    Head of Books, Waterstones

    Melissa Cox started her career at Waterstones as a Saturday girl while at university. She moved to the chain's head office as an administrator in 2010 and has had various roles since, including Children's Buyer. As of 2015 she has been Head of Books with responsibility for the Range, Children's and Publisher Liaison teams. She was a 2015 Costa Children's Book Award Judge. 

  • Stuart Dredge


    Stuart is a UK-based journalist who writes about apps, digital media and children’s technology for the Guardian as a contributing editor. He also writes about digital trends for music-industry publication Music Ally, and co-founded the children’s apps website Apps Playground. He’s currently working his way through the works of Roald Dahl, Andy Stanton and David Walliams with his two sons, while almost getting round to starting on his own children’s book idea.

  • Charlotte Eyre

    Children's editor, The Bookseller

    Charlotte Eyre is the children’s editor at The Bookseller magazine, where she is responsible for coverage of the children’s and YA book market. She also programmes The Bookseller's Children's Conference.

  • Alison Finch

    Assistant Producer, Radio 4

    Alison has been a passionate reader and haunter of libraries since childhood, her long commute from Oxford to London on the bus allowing plenty of time to indulge this passion. Having worked at the BBC in various capacities since 1982, Alison has been involved in radio for the past 25 years.  She believes that reading is the most important cultural activity a person can do; it completely conforms to the Reithian ideals of educating, informing and entertaining.

  • Viv Groskop

    Author, presenter and stand-up comedian

    Viv Groskop is a stand-up comedian, presenter and author of acclaimed comedy memoir I Laughed, I Cried (Orion). A regular on BBC Radio 4's Front Row and Saturday Review, she is a prolific reviewer of books, TV and film for print and broadcast. She has twice been shortlisted as PPA Columnist of the Year.

  • Joe Haddow

    Producer, The Radio 2 Book Club

    Joe is the Producer of the Radio 2 Book Club and is responsible for overseeing book content on the UK's most popular radio station. He chairs the committee that choose the Book Club titles and occasionally produces and presents special book content for the Radio 2 Arts Show. He is also the host of the Man Booker Prize podcasts and a literary event chair.

  • Sali Hughes

    Author, columnist and broadcaster

    Sali Hughes is a journalist, broadcaster, vlogger, Guardian and The Pool columnist and founder of the award-winning salihughesbeauty.com. A former magazine editor, she has written extensively for The Guardian, The Observer, The Telegraph, Grazia, Stylist, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and many other national publications, and is Contributing Editor on Red magazine. She appears frequently on television and radio, and is the author of best seller Pretty Honest: The Straight-talking Beauty Companion (4th Estate). She is currently writing her second book. 


  • Gemma Malley

    Director of marketing, communications and engagement, Book Trust

    Gemma Malley is a Director of BookTrust, the reading charity that works to encourage a love of reading in children, where she leads the communications, fundraising, marketing, digital and arts teams. She is also the award-winning author of seven young adult novels which have been translated into 23 languages and are regularly studied in schools. She has three children and is a patron of Wimbledon BookFest

  • Robbie Millen

    Literary Editor, The Times

    Robbie Millen is Literary Editor of The Times. Before that he was Deputy Comment Editor. Norman Mailer once told him that "if I was ten years younger I'd box your ears". He tweets at @RobbieTimes

  • Carrie Morris

    Co-owner, Booka Bookshop & Cafe

    Carrie Morris is the co-owner of Booka Bookshop in Oswestry, Shropshire.  Formerly a primary school teacher, Carrie opened Booka with her husband Tim in October 2009. It was named Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2015. Although a general Bookshop, Booka has a strong children’s offer working with local schools and hosting a wide range of children’s events and activities throughout the year.  Carrie is vice-chair of the Booksellers Association Children’s Booksellers Group.

  • Fiona Noble

    Children's and YA previews editor, The Bookseller

    Fiona Noble is the Children's & YA Previews Editor for The Bookseller and a freelance children's books consultant. Fiona has over 20 years experience of the children's book world, starting out as a Saturday library assistant aged 16, and has gone on to work in a variety of bookselling and publishing roles, including Children's Books Manager for the Ottakar's book chain.

  • Alice O'Keeffe

    Books editor, The Bookseller

    Alice O’Keeffe is the Books Editor at The Bookseller and so is lucky enough to read books for a living. She interviews authors for The Bookseller’s weekly author profile slot and writes about all the wonderful new fiction published each month in an overview that covers all genres. Alice began her career in books as a buyer at Book Club Associates before moving to Amazon.co.uk and joined The Bookseller in 2008.

  • Gary Powell

    Assistant buyer, Foyles

    Gary has worked in book retail in central London for over fifteen years, with the majority of his time as Sales Manager at the flagship Borders on Oxford Street and Store Manager at Foyles in St.Pancras Station, until moving into the Foyles buying team in early 2015. His current role involves buying new titles across all categories for all branches, as well supporting satellite branches in ordering bestselling titles, and developing promotions and marketing ideas.

  • Bali Rai

    Author and Reading Ahead ambassador, The Reading Agency

    Bali Rai wrote his first novel, (un)arranged marriage, whilst working in a Leicester city centre bar. He is now firmly established as a leading voice in young adult fiction and is published in thirteen languages. Bali's books continue to win awards and enthuse young readers. In 2015 he became an ambassador for the Reading Agency's Reading Ahead scheme, which inspires and supports young readers nationally. Bali continues to be invited all over the world to talk about his books.

  • Cathy Rentzenbrink

    Contributing editor, The Bookseller and director, Quick Reads

    Cathy is Contributing Editor at The Bookseller and the Director of Quick Reads at The Reading Agency. Her memoir The Last Act of Love was a Sunday Times bestseller and her next book will be published in 2017. Cathy speaks and writes regularly on literacy, literature and everything in between and is happiest when talking to strangers about books. She tweets as @Cathyreadsbooks.

  • Caroline Sanderson

    Associate Editor, The Bookseller

    Caroline is Associate Editor and non-fiction previewer for The Bookseller. She is also the editor of ALCS News, the online magazine of the Authors Licensing & Collecting Society; and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Worcester. Caroline is the author of five non-fiction books, including ‘A Rambling Fancy: In the Footsteps of Jane Austen’; and ‘Someone Like Adele'. She is a regular broadcaster, and co-hosts a monthly book club on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Caroline regularly chairs events at literary festivals, and is a judge for the Wales Book of the Year 2016.

  • Professor Kate Williams

    Historian, author and broadcaster

    Kate Williams is a historian and broadcaster. A specialist in modern history, royal and constitutional affairs, she's Professor of Modern History at Reading University. Kate is a NYT bestselling author of six historical books. Her biographies of Josephine Bonaparte is being made into a major TV series by Ecosse and her biography of Emma Hamilton is being made into a film. Kate's most recent book, Edge of the Fall, continues the trilogy about the De Witt family from 1914-1939.

  • Chris White

    Fiction Buyer, Waterstones

    Chris started his bookselling career at Hatchards and has been Waterstones Fiction Buyer for the last four years. During that time he has been a judge for the Romantic Novelist Association Awards, the UCL Short Story Competition and is responsible for the Waterstones Book Club selection.  In 2014 he was named a Bookseller Rising Star.

Trade Judges

  • Lisa Campbell

    News editor, The Bookseller

    Lisa began working as a regional news journalist at the Keighley News in West Yorkshire before moving to London to work as part of the BBC Journalism Talent Pool. She worked as an entertainment reporter for Cover Media for a short time before joining The Bookseller in February 2011 as a reporter, and was promoted to senior reporter, specialising in retail, in 2013 before being promoted to deputy news editor in June 2014 and news editor in December 2015.

  • Amanda Craig


    Amanda Craig is the author of six novels, most recently Hearts and Minds, literary critic and children's books critic. Her seventh novel will be published next year. She contributes to many newspapers and magazines, including The Telegraph, The Observer, the New Statesman and Prospect.

  • James Heneage

    Author & founder of Ottakar's Bookshop Chain

    James Heneage was the founder of the Ottakar's Bookshop chain which he grew to 150 branches before selling to Waterstones in 2006. Since then he has become the author of three works of historical fiction set in 15th-century Byzantium and set up the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival which attracts 40,000 enthusiasts every year. He is currently working on his fourth book.

  • Peter James


    Peter James’s nine consecutive Sunday Times No 1 bestselling Roy Grace crime novels, are published in 36 languages with sales of 17 million copies. He is the recipient of the 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger, and in 2015 was publicly voted by WH Smith readers as the Best Crime Author of All Time.  He has written 28 novels as well as one non-fiction book on policing.  He lives in Notting Hill and in Sussex, with his wife Lara, 2 dogs, a cat, 7 hens, 5 alpacas, a baby shark & a gerbil called Colin.

  • Philip Jones

    Editor, The Bookseller

    Philip is editor of The Bookseller, a position he took up in August 2012. Before that he was deputy editor, having first joined the magazine in 1996. He was its web editor for 10 years, having helped launch thebookseller.com in 1998. He is a regular commentator on book trade matters on radio, TV and in the broadsheet newspapers. 

  • George Lossius

    Non-executive director, Midas PR

    George, has spent over 25 years in the publishing sector in the UK, USA and France. Much of that time at Vista and then as CEO of Publishing Technology. Latterly, George has been a non-executive director of Midas PR, a stalwart in the publicity of the books, publishers and other publishing service providers and he has also started a software business in the arts world, and provides specialist advice in the technology investment sector.

  • Jess MacDermot

    Group Commercial Director, Haymarket Business Media

    Recently appointed as Group Commercial Director at Haymarket Business Media, Jess started her career at Centaur Media plc where she became Publisher of Creative Review magazine. In 2011 she joined Contagious Communications working in a global capacity across their publishing, events and consultancy divisions. Outside of work Jess is normally to be found with a book in one hand and a glass of red in the other. 

  • Sandy Mahal

    Literary consultant & associate producer

    Sandeep Mahal is a Literary Consultant and Associate Producer. Until recently, Sandeep was Director of The Space - a commissioning agency supporting greater digital access to the arts co-founded by Arts Council England and the BBC. A librarian by training, she worked in public libraries for ten years and was formerly Head of Partnerships at The Reading Agency. She was a judge for the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2013, awarded a Fellowship from the Clore Leadership Programme in 2013 and chaired the FutureBook conference in December 2015.

  • Michael Neil

    Executive director, Izod Associates

    Michael has worked in the book trade for the past 30 or so years holding senior roles at Bertrams, Blackwell’s, Dubray Books, HMV, Waterstones and WHSmith. He is Executive Director at book trade consultants Izod Associates.

  • Shireen Peermohamed

    Partner, Harbottle & Lewis

    Shireen Peermohamed is a partner at law firm Harbottle & Lewis where she specialises in publishing and intellectual property work.  Shireen works with publishers, authors, agents, retailers and platform providers, across a range of commercial agreements and disputes.

  • Liz Sich

    Former managing director, Four Colman Getty

    Liz Sich was MD of Four Colman Getty, the leading arts PR agency, where she worked on the launch of World Book Day, the opening of the Library of Birmingham, and many high profile book and retail campaigns. She remains involved in a wide range of arts projects and is a trustee of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, Streetwise Opera, and The Orwell Prize, and sits on the Development Board of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

  • Catherine Taylor

    Deputy director, English PEN

    Catherine Taylor is the Deputy Director of English PEN. Formerly publisher at the Folio Society, she has worked for organisations as varied as Amazon, Microsoft and the British Library. Catherine has been a judge on the Guardian First Book, Jewish Quarterly-Wingate and European Literature prizes among other awards, and currently reviews for the Guardian, Financial Times, and Literary Review.

  • Tom Tivnan

    Features & insight editor, The Bookseller

    Tom has worked as a bookseller for Barnes & Noble in the US, and for James Thin and Blackwell’s in the UK, and as a sales rep for Scottish distributor Bookspeed. A long-time freelance writer, he switched to full- time journalism in January 2007 and was promoted to features and insight editor in 2013. 

  • David Young

    President, The Book Trade Charity

    David Young retired from corporate publishing after 45 years in December 2015.  During his career he has been Deputy Chief Executive of Hachette UK and CEO of Orion Publishing Group and before that Chairman and CEO of Hachette Book Group USA: he also worked at HarperCollins and Thorson. He is President of BTBS, the Book Trade Charity, and is on the boards of Scholastic Corp and Tate Enterprises.

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