Pan Macmillan authors Joe Wicks, Jeffrey Archer, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler were last night awarded the Golden Pan, one of the industry's very first author awards, recognising sales in excess of one million copies over a book's lifetime.
The authors collected their gongs, a gold-plated statuette of the Greek god Pan, at a ceremony hosted by Foyles Charing Cross on Tuesday night (5th September) in the company of Pan Macmillan staff past and present and members of the press. Golden Pans were also dealt to Emma Donoghue and Ken Follett, who were unable to attend the ceremony itself, for sales of The Room and Pillars of the Earth.
Guests at the event included Gordon Young, who joined Pan in 1946 and became its export sales manager, and Knopf editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, as well as members of staff from 1970s and 80s including Suzanne Baboneau, Kyle Cathie, Lewis Essen, Jacqui Graham, Clare Harington, Susan Haskins Jonathan Main, Marilyn Warnick and Simon Wood. Tim Kitchen was also in attendence; while he never worked for Pan, he started a website devoted to Pan history in 1991 and, still blogging on it, by now owns 25,000 Pan titles.
Wicks, Donaldson and Scheffler - who earlier this year received Platinum Bestseller Awards at the Specsavers Bestseller Awards - were honoured for platinum sales records of Lean in 15 (Bluebird) and The Gruffalo (Macmillan Children's Books), respectively. Archer received the accolade for Only Time Will Tell (Pan) in The Clifton Chronicles.
Wicks took the opportunity to thank his Bluebird publisher Carole Tonkinson and said: "I never imagined in a million years I'd sell a million copies of this book".
Donaldson, whose first job was in publishing, called it "a special moment" for her. Scheffler meanwhile added of the Golden Pan: "I see him as a symbol against all the madness around us ... at least book sales are growing".
Anthony Forbes Watson congratulates Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson
The award returns after at least decade's absence as part of a range of events and promotions running throughout the autumn in honour of 70 years of publishing the Pan paperback, another key part of which is the reissue of 20 “classic” Pan paperbacks sporting new technicolour designs on Thursday (7th September).
The first Golden Pans were awarded in 1964 to Alan Sillitoe, Paul Brickhill, Grace Metalious (posthumously), and seven times over to Ian Fleming. Other notable recipients include Otto Frank, who also received a Golden Pan award on behalf of Anne Frank in 1971 after sales of her diary topped one million copies.
M.d. Anthony Forbes Watson praised Pan Macmillan's "extraordinary" authors and said the company was "on a roll" with its "strongest" list.
"Pan has always been a much-loved company and later imprint, and it pioneered bestseller driven mass-appeal publishing form the start," he said, continuing: "Today Pan is on a roll and can claim to have its strongest list since the disbanding of the consortium 30 years ago, with a glittering stable of bestselling authors and a continuing commitment to mass entertainment inspired 70 years ago ... Our Golden Pan has taken a few years off, so with his return this evening we are taking the opportunity to catch up a bit.”
Archer, whose novel Kane and Abel last month got its 100th reprint, closed his acceptance speech for the award (pictured below) by contrasting Elizabeth Barrett Browning's assertion "Great Pan is dead" with his own view that, to the contrary, 70 years on Pan is truly "alive and flourishing".