Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake, published by crowd-funding platform Unbound, has been named the inaugural Book of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards 2015.
The book is written in re-imagined old English and set in 1066, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, and won the Gordon Burn Prize.
It was crowd-funded by Unbound after being picked up by Unbound founder and publisher John Mitchinson.
Editions available included a coptic-stitched hardback, and the trade edition has sold 5,000 copies through Nielsen BookScan, and was the first book to be co-published with Cornerstone, under Unbound’s new trade publishing agreement with the Penguin Random House division.
The judges for the prize, which was sponsored by Ingram, felt The Wake’s “journey was most indicative of publishing today”.
Caroline Sanderson, associate editor at The Bookseller and a judge of the award, said: “The Wake might seem a controversial choice. It is not the bestselling book of the year, nor are we arguing that it is the book we loved reading most—although it is arresting and extraordinary. What stood out about The Wake is what it proves: that publishing is now so creative and fleet of foot that anything is possible. Moreover, it is a shining example of a 21st century book: both a beautiful, traditional object that is a pleasure to possess, and a publication that came about through the power of online crowd-sourcing.”
The Wake beat titles including Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist (Picador), Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (Cape), children’s favourite Awful Auntie by David Walliams (HarperCollins), and Capital by Thomas Piketty (Harvard).
Also shortlisted were the books of vloggers Zoe Sugg (Girl Online, Penguin), and Alfie Deyes (The Pointless Book, Blink Publishing).
Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley), Macavity: The Mystery Cat (Faber) and Minecraft: The Official Construction Handbook completed the shortlist.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: “The Book of the Year prize was introduced to showcase a book that best demonstrated the real value of publishing: that close collaboration between the publisher and author that culminates in something extraordinary for the reader. The Wake is that title—a remarkable book remarkably published. The author has written that he expected to self-publish it: I’m glad this one found a way through and it is to publishing’s credit that it did. The publisher provided the platform to get this book funded, and then published it brilliantly across multiple editions.”
The Book of the Year award was presented at The Bookseller Industry Awards, which rewarded people across the trade in 21 categories.