British Book Awards open for submissions with two new gongs for 2021

British Book Awards open for submissions with two new gongs for 2021

The British Book Awards (a.k.a. the Nibbies) are now open for submissions, with the winners to be inaugurated at a virtual ceremony on 13th May, followed by a summer party to celebrate the shortlists, winners and wider trade. The annual celebration of publishers, booksellers, agents, authors and illustrators from across the United Kingdom and Ireland is now in its 31st year and earlier this year was named "Event of the Year" at the PPA's Independent Publisher Awards.

Submissions may be made at, with the deadline of 5th February. New awards for 2021 include Designer of the Year—for the best-in-class book designer—and Pageturner of the Year—aimed at popular fiction titles across all formats.

Book awards to be presented on the night include Début, Fiction, Non-fiction, Audiobook, Crime & Thriller, Pageturner, and an overall Book of the Year. There will also be awards for Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year.

Trade awards include the highly coveted Publisher of the Year, won in 2020 by Pan Macmillan; Book Retailer, won last year by Waterstones; Independent Bookshop of the Year, won by Book-ish; and Independent Publisher of the Year, won by Nosy Crow in 2020. There are also awards for agents, rights professionals, editors, imprints, marketeers and publicists.

Independent Bookshop and Small Press awards are also open for entries, with the regional winners to be announced on Wednesday 17th February and Friday 19th February respectively. The overall winners from these categories will be announced at the May event, and also go on to contest the Book Retailer of the Year and Independent Publisher of the Year awards. The Export Awards will also once again be open for entries, with the winners of these also to be announced on 13th May.

The British Book Awards were first launched by Publishing News in 1990. Now run by The Bookseller, 2020’s winners included Candice Carty-Williams, who picked up the Book of the Year and Fiction awards, Bernardine Evaristo, David McKee, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Held virtually for the first time in its history, the 2020 show attracted a huge audience, with more than 40,000 views of the awards videos, and two million impressions of Nibbies-related content on social media. Book of the Year Queenie sold 7,811 copies after its win, a 68% jump week on week, while the Fiction winner Girl Woman Other hit its highest weekly sale to date of 21,625 copies, double its volume the week before. Both My Sister the Serial Killer, and Pinch of Nom also saw signficant sales uplifts.

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: “In a year dominated by Covid-19, social distancing rules, and lockdowns, the 2021 British Book Awards will surely showcase the trade’s incredible resilience in the face of the biggest disruption seen since the Second World War. The 2020 awards show was a triumph, and the intention is to build on this for 2021 with an even bigger and better virtual event followed, if we can, by a summer party. In the meantime, you need to be in it to win it, so let's get those submissions started!”

Chair of the judges will once again be Jones, with books editor Alice O’Keeffe to chair the book awards. Deputy editor Benedicte Page and managing editor Tom Tivnan will chair the trade categories. Shortlists will be released on Friday 19th March.