The British Book Awards to return with new awards and hybrid ceremony

The British Book Awards to return with new awards and hybrid ceremony

The British Book Awards will return for an in-person event on 23rd May 2022, with a live stream available for those not attending the ceremony. Following the event, an edited version of the show will also be made available. Submissions may be made at thebookseller.com/awards, with the deadline of 3rd February.

New awards for 2022 in the Books of the Year strand include the Discover Book of the Year, aimed at underrepresented writers, and a split of the Children’s awards into Non-fiction and Illustrated, in addition to the Fiction award. There will also be two Audiobook awards this year, representing the strong growth in that market: these will be for Fiction and Non-fiction. 

On the Trade side, 2022 sees the return of the Individual Bookseller of the Year award, recognising the vital role booksellers continue to play in the sector. These build on the new awards launched last year, which included Designer of the Year—for the best-in-class book designer—and Pageturner of the Year—aimed at popular fiction titles across all formats. 

Other book awards to be presented on the night include Début, Fiction, Non-fiction Lifestyle, Non-fiction Narrative, Crime & Thriller, and an overall Book of the Year. There will also be awards for Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year, won last year by Richard Osman and Charlie Mackesy, respectively.

The Bookseller has recruited Hannah Davies—who helped run the Booker Prize at Four Communications—as a freelance project manager to help shape the awards in 2022 with the winners’ ceremony aimed at celebrating the entire trade in a safe, collegiate space, including an online version of the live event for those who wish to access it remotely. Davies joins marketing consultant Miriam Robinson, the PR company FMcM, live events producer H2 and digital producer Silverstream as part of the core team run by The Bookseller’s head of publisher relations Emma Lowe and editor, and chair of the judges, Philip Jones.

On the reintroduction of the Individual Bookseller award, Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, said: “Booksellers are the frontline staff of the book industry and they have worked tirelessly and with good humour throughout the pandemic, getting books to customers and keeping their communities together. We need to take any opportunity to stop and thank them for their service, and appreciate what they bring to our high streets and our industry, whether they are in a chain or an independent, a specialist or a general shop. They are our heroes and it will be wonderful to celebrate them at The British Book Awards with their own award.”

Trade awards include the highly coveted Publisher of the Year, won in 2021 by Orion; Book Retailer, won last year for the first time by an indie, Moon Lane; Children’s Publisher of the Year, last won by Wonderbly; and Independent Publisher, won by Canongate in 2021. There are also awards for agents, rights professionals, editors, imprints, marketing professionals and publicists.

Independent Bookshop and Small Press awards are also open for entries, with the regional and country shortlists to be announced on 16th February and 18th February respectively, ahead of the winners for these areas, which comprise the shortlists for the overall awards, in March. The overall winners for these awards 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 Award will also once again be open for entries, with the winner of this to be announced at the ceremony.

Nibbies through the years
The British Book Awards were first launched by Publishing News in 1990. Now run by The Bookseller, 2021’s winners included Osman, who picked up the Author of the Year award for the publication of his run-away bestseller The Thursday Murder Club; Douglas Stuart, whose book Shuggie Bain was named Debut and Book of the Year; along with other winners including Delia Owens, David Olusoga, Dara McAnulty and Maggie O’Farrell. Trade winners included literary agent Nelle Andrew, Nosy Crow, Sweet Cherry and the Sevenoaks Bookshop.

Held virtually for the second time in its history, the 2021 show attracted a huge audience. In 2021 the ceremony’s video streams and clips were viewed more than 470,000 times, with a total watch time of 2,300 hours on YouTube, with strong activity across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In total, the show received 10 million impressions across all platforms, with more than 240 pieces of individual content shared, from the ceremony itself to clips of the winners’ videos.

Chair Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: “The return to an in-person event in 2022 will mark the culmination of an incredible and challenging two years for the trade as well as The British Book Awards. We will once again shout and amplify the great publishing—from the engine room to the shop floor—and also acknowledge the magnificent books that have provided information, distraction and succour for the nation’s readers during these turbulent times. We also want to use the opportunity of a physical ceremony to recognise how publishing has changed and been changed during these past two years. We may be back, but we will not be the same, with the intention to deliver a different kind of show for both physical attendees and those watching online. 

“In the meantime, we look forward to seeing those submissions come in, from the very many small presses that are spread across the United Kingdom and Ireland, to the majors and all their works.”

The announcement comes as the trade is urged by writer Penny Batchelor and publisher Clare Christian to #KeepFestivalsHybrid, asking literary event organisers to factor in accessibility right at the beginning of their planning, with Christian pointing to The Bookseller’s first hybrid event, the FutureBook Conference, held in November, as a good example of how this can work well.

Chair of the judges will once again be Jones, with books editor Alice O’Keeffe to chair the book awards. The shortlists will be released on Friday 18th March.