Audio has dominated the FutureBook Awards with Backlisted winning the Podcast of the Year Award, and Ladybird Audio Adventures picking up the FutureBook of the Year. BookTech Start-up, judged on the day, went to MY VLF, with Make Our Book run by Emma Barnes highly commended, while Campaign of the Year was awarded to Tin Can Cook, Pan Macmillan's launch of the Jack Monroe cookbook.
Backlisted, supported by publisher Unbound and hosted by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller, was praised by the judges for its persuasive passion for books, particularly forgotten classics. Judge Molly Flatt, comment editor of The Bookseller, said: "An underground hit produced with skill and passion, Backlisted shows the Unbound team doing what they do best - connecting readers with books they might otherwise never have discovered in an intimate and uncynical way."
Selected from a shortlist that included the Penguin Podcast, Blinkist's Simplify, The Comma Press Podcast, and This is Spoke, the Waterstones Podcast was also awarded a highly commended from the judges. Flatt added: "It would have been so easy for Waterstones to create a flashy podcast around big-name new releases. Instead their theme-based series, created and produced entirely in-house, shows creativity, authenticity and heart."
FutureBook of the Year, sponsored by the Frankfurt Book Fair, was Ladybird Audio Adventures, published by Penguin Random House Audio, with Bolinda's production of Sophie Dahl's Madame Badobedah highly commended. The Ladybird titles, including Dinosaur Times, The Animal Kingdom, Amazing Vehicles, Out Space and Deep Sea Dive, are part of an original series for 4-to 7-year-olds narrated by Sophie Aldred and Ben Bailey Smith. This was a clever spin on the Ladybird name to push new audio content out to younger consumers and their parents, the judges said.
Matthäus Cygan, director business development trade international at Frankfurter Buchmesse, added: “Many congratulations to the team behind Ladybird Audio Adventures who have successfully launched an audiobook series to a whole new target age group, and have created fun, entertaining and brilliantly informative stories that encourage kids aged 4-7 to learn about the world. We'd also like to highly commend Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl: a witty, charming, beautifully illustrated and timeless story. Perfect for engaging young readers and letting their imaginations run wild.”
The duo were picked out by the judges ahead of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (Bonnier Books UK), Penguin Classics in Audio (Penguin Random House Audio), Seven Days of Sound Meditation (HarperCollins), Today: A History of our World through 60 years of Conversations & Controversies (Octopus Publishing Group),HAG, an audio-exclusive short story collection by Audible, and the only text title on the shortlist, ESC CardioMed (Oxford University Press).
Campaign of the Year went to Tin Can Cook (Pan Macmillan/Bluebird), with a highly commended bestowed on Bookshop Day, a promotion for highstreet bookshops led by the Booksellers Association and Midas Pr.
Freelance marketeer and judge Miriam Robinson said: “Some campaigns have innovation. Some have stellar audience segmentation. Some have perfectly targeted partnerships and flawless execution. This campaign HAD IT ALL and then some! The team at PanMac have outdone themselves with Tin Can Cook, forging new sales channels and reaching new demographics, hitting commercial and charitable targets with integrity and panache. Amazing work.”
On Bookshop Day, she added: “Since its inception, Bookshop Day has gone from strength to strength, and the work carried out by the BA and Midas is nothing short of remarkable. To galvanise and grow this level of retailer participation, and to garner this kind of coverage for bookshops, is to support the lifeblood of the trade in a truly fundamental way. Massively impressive all around.”
Announced ahead of the conference, FutureBook Person of the Year was given to campaigning author Kit de Waal, who delivered the final keynote at the event.
She followed Dialogue Publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, who said: "It’s been such an honour to have been the FutureBook Publishing Person of the Year and it has spurred me onto be more ambitious and to also greater consider the impact my work has on the wider industry as well as future publishers and readers. Kit de Waal has long been an inspiration to me as an author, activist and advocate for change and great storytelling from a wide range of people. It’s challenging to be an voice for inclusion as a writer and I believe that Kit does it with grace, style, empathy and passion and strikes the balance perfectly. I am thrilled to pass on the baton to her for this year and as always I will be supporting her visionary work from the side-lines."
The prestigious FutureBook Awards were given out at the end of FutureBook Live, The Bookseller's annual publishing conference, now in its 10th year.