Audio, AR and IRL events loom large in the FutureBook Awards 2018 shortlists

Audio, AR and IRL events loom large in the FutureBook Awards 2018 shortlists

Today, the shortlists for the 2018 FutureBook Awards were revealed at Frankfurt Book Fair - and they provide an interesting overview into the state of innovation in the book trade right now.

The six projects in the running for FutureBook of the Year include two audiobooks - Penguin Random House’s Only Human and HarperCollins’ Life On Earth - as well as one print book with integrated audio, The Tallowmere Annual from Faber Music, and a medley of audio, art and animation as featured in The Real Thing, a bundle of short love stories from Amazon Publishing. Augmented reality pops up in ‘the first ever AR-powered novel’, The Ghostkeeper's Journal and Field Guide from Carlton Books, while WatAdventure in Australia, from new kids’ publisher WatAdventure, focuses on crowdsourcing parts of the book from its young readers via PopJam.

FutureBook Campaign of the Year demonstrates how big-name authors can be given a fresh spin with clever use of digital - see Lily Allen's My Thoughts Exactly from Bonnier, and The Retreat by Mark Edwards from Amazon Publishing, as well as the voice-activated StoryCastle Google Assistant app from HarperCollins Children’s Books, which brings favourite stories to a new generation of tech-savvy kids. But it also honours smart and emotive campaigns from smaller indies, such as Gaspard the Fox from Welsh press Graffeg. Penguin Random House’s Like A Woman, the female-author-only pop-up bookshop, is a great example of how powerful real-world bookselling can still be, while HQ HarperCollins’ BOSH! integrated everything from scented bus stops to a day-long vegan festival to deliver a cookery hit. Finally, the efforts by Sam Conniff Allende and Penguin Random House to rethink every aspect of book marketing for Be More Pirate holds many transferable lessons for others in the industry.

The Podcast of the Year category, new for 2018, honours both solid successes and bright new entrants into a medium exploding with good ideas. The all-bells-and-whistles (complete with Alexa skill) Penguin Podcast is the only finalist from a traditional publisher, although book-condensing app Blinkist also scores a slot with its well-targeted Simplify series. Two children’s podcasts make the list - the four-year-strong pioneer Down the Rabbit Hole and Story Shed, the year-old original fiction show from primary school teacher Jake Harris. Both Mostly Lit and Not Another Book Podcast make the cut, too, for their skill in positioning books as part of wider pop culture for a more diverse audience. Last on the seven-strong shortlist is The Bestseller Experiment, a weekly podcast from authors Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux, who interview everyone from Michael Connelly to Bryan Cranston as they attempt to work out what makes a hit book.

When it comes to the BookTech Startup of the Year, the five nominated companies show how innovation can be applied to very different aspects of publishing. Publica hopes to give authors an entirely new way of publishing and selling via the blockchain; Bookabees combines a kids’ book subscription box with a ‘lending library’ model of selling; The Pound Project aims to make crowdfunding books more accessible with beautifully designed monthly short stories starting at just £1; Commaful hosts short, visually-led clickable stories for the Instagram generation; while Bookful offers to aggregate the best kids’ books producing using - you guessed it - AR. The live pitch off to decide the winner at the FutureBook Live conference on 30th November, in front of judges including Alex Wood, Europe editor of Forbes; Bec Evans, founder of productivity startup Prolifiko; and Marine Debray, head of group strategy and business development at HarperCollins, should be a feast of fresh thinking.

As for the FutureBook Person of the Year? You’ll have to wait until the conference to find out who scoops the crown for that, as well - and to find out who the overall winners are in each category (you can see a summary of all the shortlists here).

Don’t miss out - book your tickets now.