Publishers Nosy Crow and Pan Macmillan have been named winners of the FutureBook Awards: Best of Lockdown, after the week-long virtual conference culminated in the awards ceremony. The pair won alongside Bath-based bookshop Mr B’s Emporium, the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and academic subscription service Perlego.
In total, more than 25 candidates were shortlisted this year for the prestigious awards, with live pitching sessions held throughout the week, with delegates asked to vote for the winners.
The winner in the Event category was the The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival,, which had to pivot to a virtual and partially physical event as the government introduced new restrictions during its planning stages. Molly Flatt, comment editor of The Bookseller, who judged this category, said: “The winner provided a masterclass in how to do that dreaded thing, pivot, reimagining how a major literary festival could work in a lockdown world and continuing to innovate even as the situation changed daily under their feet." Also in this category, a High Commendation was given to The Stay-At-Home! Literature Festival.
Winner in the Book section was Nosy Crow for its Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19, a quick-to-publication digital and then print book, written in-house and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The title acted as a handy explainer about the pandemic for young children. Editor of The Bookseller Philip Jones said: "Here speed was key, but also versatility and publishing excellence: this was book that was needed for now, and [Nosy Crow boss] Kate Wilson and her team made sure it met that need, but in a thoughtful and well-executed manner." A High Commendation was given to Orion for its Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, curated by bestselling author Adam Kay.
There were joint winners of the Campaign award, with Georgina Moore of Midas PR picking up the award for her publicity campaign for Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet, a book partly about plague that was published just as lockdown closed bookshops for the first time. Judge The Bookseller's Marketing & Publicity Conference lead Miriam Robinson said: "The winner for publicity campaign is someone who pivoted before we even knew what it really meant to pivot, who took a technophobic author into the digital world and paved the way for the flurry of virtual tours and reimagined PR that would come next."
The second winner was Sarah Arratoon, head of marketing at Pan Macmillan, for the Kingsbridge Festival, held virtually to support Ken Follett’s new novel, The Evening and the Morning. Robinson said: "The winner for the marketing campaign is someone who had a name-brand author, whose book needed a big splash, and who again shifted away from physical events and towards a profoundly integrated, dynamic and reactive campaign, with a huge event at its heart and extremely savvy customer relationship managment to surround it."
In the Retail segment, bookshop Mr B’s Emporium was declared the winner for its multifaceted approach to having to close its shop doors. Robinson said: "Mr B's is a bookshop whose approach has always been customer-first, but who in lockdown translated that ethos into online service in a way that always stayed true to its brand and values." There was also a High Commendation for Michelle Peters from independent Bearhunt Books.
In the competitive Start-up category, the winner was textbook subscription service Perlego, which was able to grow its business substantially as a result of the restrictions, using its position to convince even more publishers to put content on its service. A High Commendation was also given to independent publisher Onwe. Judge Bec Evans said: "Over the past few years, Perlego has partnered with publishers, giving them the major share of royalties in a market often lost to piracy. When lockdown hit, it was perfectly positioned to provide digital books to students, and achieved significant growth."
Already announced were the FutureBook Team of the Year, the four booksellers behind the "At Home with Four Indies" series of online events—Helen Stanton from Forum Books (Corbridge, Northumberland), Carrie Morris from Booka Bookshop (Oswestry, Shropshire), Emma Corfield-Walters from Book-ish (Crickhowell, Wales) and Sue Porter from Linghams Booksellers (Wirral, Merseyside)—and Person of the Year, the Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls.