The shortlists for the FutureBook Awards, Best of Lockdown, have been announced. In total, 27 companies or individuals have been selected across five categories: Book, Retail, Event, Campaign and Startup. Shortlistees will showcase their entries at the FutureBook Conference, where a live audience will vote for the winner. The winners of the two other categories, Person of the Year and Team of the Year, are to be revealed ahead of FutureBook this year, a week-long all-virtual event (16th–20th November).
Six campaigns have been selected, including the Midas-led publicity for Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press); Orion’s publicity campaign for Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan; Canongate’s marketing for Matt Haig’s bestseller The Midnight Library; OUP’s campaign for the Oxford Owl for Home: Learning Anywhere campaign; Pan Macmillan for the Kingsbridge Festival, held virtually to support Ken Follett’s new novel, The Evening and the Morning; and HQ’s marketing campaign for Caroline Hirons’ Skincare.
Up for the Book award are Coronavirus: A Book for Children About Covid-19 (Nosy Crow); Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay (Orion); Andy Serkis’ reading of The Hobbit (HarperCollins); Edinburgh Unlocked—Over 20 Acts from the Fringe that Never Was (Penguin Random House); and the We Love Romance app (Mills & Boon).
Event of the Year, a new category for 2020, reflecting the surge of inventive events that arose as a response to the pandemic, includes the Cheltenham Festival, The Stay-At-Home! Literary Festival, #DrawWithRob, Virtual Noir at the Bar, Borderless Book Club and Imagine Nation.
Companies shortlisted for their Covid response are Wirral-based Bear Hunt Books, Bath indie Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, publisher Bluemoose Books, Blackwell’s Oxford Book Bike, and libraries supplier Ulverscroft.
The five start-ups that will battle it out live during the conference include independent publisher Onwe, academic subscription service Perlego, cloud-based proofing platform ProofCheck, story-based learning app StoryPack, and autobiography self-publishing service StoryTerrace.
At 4 p.m. on each day of the conference, the finalists will join a live panel to explain their projects and answer questions; after which, in a FutureBook first, delegates watching the sessions will be invited to vote. On the Friday (20th November), the four judges— The Bookseller’s editor Philip Jones, comment editor and author Molly Flatt, and marketing consultant Miriam Robinson, alongside Bec Evans, founder of Prolifiko—will present the awards live in a virtual ceremony.
Robinson said: “One thing that came through when reading the 2020 entries is that this year has been the year of collaboration—we have shared resources, ideas, information and energy, not just within our own teams but across publishing houses and the many different corners of the book trade.”
Jones added: “The submissions showed the sector at its best, and I am only sorry that we could not shortlist them all; however, the virtual format gives us the opportunity to showcase the hard work of many in front of a live audience, with voting and delegate participation helping to ensure that everyone can benefit from the energy and excellence of these innovations. It’s been an exceptional period of change and renewal, with the reader, as always, at the heart.”
Evans said: “While the temptation might have been to cut back on innovation, the publishing industry has risen to the challenges of the 2020 with many brilliant and inspiring ideas. The FutureBook Awards showcase the resilience and creativity of those working with books.”
The full programme for the FutureBook Conference, including interviews with the c.e.o.s of Penguin Random House UK, Hachette, HarperCollins and Bonnier Books UK, can be viewed at thebookseller.com/futurebook-conference, where readers can also purchase tickets for the virtual event.