Guardian First Book Award to close after 17 years

Guardian First Book Award to close after 17 years

The Guardian First Book Award is to close after 17 years due to a crowded "awards landscape" and the financial constraints of running the prize.

Established in 1999, the prize awarded £10,000 to a debut writer published in English. However, today (7th April), books editor Claire Armitstead announced that the prize is to end.

A statement from The Guardian said: “After almost two decades we have made the decision that we will no longer be running the Guardian First Book Award. The awards landscape has expanded extensively over the years and there are now numerous events which recognise emerging literary talent.”

In her blog, Armitstead cited this year's Bailey Women's Prize for Fiction, which has "no fewer than 11 first novels on a shortlist of 20", and a "proliferation of newer initiatives that reach across genres for exciting new literary departures" including the Goldsmiths Prize and the Ted Hughes Award, as examples of prizes the Guardian First Book Award found itself "jostling for space" with.

The Bookseller understands that the Guardian News & Media’s bid to cut running costs by 20%, which is just over £50m, has also contributed to the decision to end the prize.

The statement continued: “We're hugely proud of what the Guardian first book award has achieved and of the many authors whose work it has celebrated."

Waterstones had supported the prize in kind with their reading groups reading the books on the shortlist and helping to judge the prize.

Stuart Broom, Waterstones regional Eeents coordinator, told The Bookseller: "Hundreds of readers have contributed to the process of judging the GFBA over the course of thirteen years at Waterstones shops.  It has been a real privilege to have heard their opinions, and see them forming their opinions about the writers who are delivering fresh, vibrant work. We're sorry to see the award close."

Dallas Manderson, trustee of the Desmond Elliott Prize which also awards £10,000 to new writers, said the prize's closure was a "huge shame".

"It makes the Desmond Elliott Prize even more important for debut novelists - not just in getting them recognition for their first book, but also making it easier for them to write their second," he said.

Last year, Andrew McMillan became the first poet to win the prize for his “elegantly poised and intimate” collection of poems, Physical (Jonathan Cape). He joins a list of winners that includes Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer and Yiyun Li.

The Folio Prize was also suspended this year after its sponsorship deal ended and last month The Bookseller reported that the Jerwood Prize for Fiction had also cancelled its 2016 prize after its sponsorship deal also ended.