Simon & Schuster has won the crown of Publisher of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards, following a record year of sales thanks to celebrity memoirs by Dave Grohl and Bob Mortimer as well as TikTok stars Colleen Hoover, Adam Silvera and Taylor Jenkins Reid.
The ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House on May 23 also saw awards for publishers such as HarperCollins, Knights Of and Pushkin Press, while Bookshop.org, Bloomsbury’s Alexandra Pringle and Becky Thomas also picked up awards.
The judges hailed a “transformative” year for Simon & Schuster, recording its best-ever performance in the total consumer market, up 39% on its full-year estimate. “His books seemed to be everywhere…they had it all: a best-selling lead roster, strength in depth, and publishing teams at the top of their game,” the judges said.
They argued that Simon & Schuster’s performance was all the more impressive given the publisher’s uncertain future, with the proposed acquisition of Bertelsmann still crawling through US courts.
HarperCollins and Arabella Pike have won the first-ever British Book Award for Freedom to Publish, recognizing the publisher’s “courage and bravery” in defending authors against costly attacks by oligarchs and for its “robust defense of non- investigative fiction and publishing in the public interest”. ”.
Book Retailer of the Year was awarded to Bookshop.org, which generated almost £2 million for the over 500 stores and affiliates it serves in 2021. The judges hailed the platform as “the perfect solution for the times”, calling it a “lifeline for independents”. which kept stores operating during the closings. “It’s definitely a game-changer and it’s going to get even bigger and better,” they said.
Viper Books won the Imprint of the Year award after only a full year of publication. JThe judges praised the Serpent’s Tail imprint’s phenomenal success rate and its ability to propel new or overlooked authors into the mainstream. “The industry needed a new footprint like this,” they said. “Publish only what publishers like is a strategy that many are only interested in, but it’s genuine here, and it’s clearly working.” The commercial and critical results in such a short time are remarkable.
Independent Publisher of the Year was awarded to Pushkin Press, which saw sales of Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz The passenger, translated by Philip Boehm, approaching six figures in 2021, giving the publisher its first Sunday time bestseller in hardback and paperback. by David Diop At night all the blood is black, translated by Anna Moschovakis, won the 2021 International Booker Prize, among a shortlist that included another Pushkin title. “Pushkin Press is the perfect example of an independent publisher that knows its strengths and knows how to capitalize on them,” the judges said. “He’s proudly literary and never afraid to take risks on books few have heard of…it’s so good to see how commercial success is now taking him to the next level.”
Becky Thomas won literary agent of the year, having launched the Lewinsohn literary agency in 2021 after stints at Faber and agencies such as Johnson & Alcock. The judges praised its strong reputation for inclusivity and bringing underrepresented authors from the margins to the mainstream, saying, “Starting an agency in the middle of a pandemic and doing things on your own terms takes courage. …it says a lot that so many of her writers were with her.
Editor of the Year went to Bloomsbury’s Alexandra Pringle, who dominated 2021 with three major critical and commercial successes. by Susanna Clarke Piranesi won the Women’s Prize, while Abdulrazak Gurnah received the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Madeline Miller Prize The Song of Achilles returned to the bestseller list following a wave of interest on TikTok. The judges said: “She’s been one of Britain’s great editors for many years now, and it’s wonderful to see all her hard work for authors pay off. She marries critical and commercial success in a way few people can.
Knights Of won Children’s Publisher of the Year, with the judges calling it “small but mighty, and full of integrity and purpose”. A year of transformation has seen her quadruple her total book sales and triple her rights turnover, while Elle McNicoll’s A kind of spark won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Best Story Book Award, with Jason Reynolds winning the CILIP Carnegie Medal for Look both ways.
The Independent Bookstore of the Year went to The Bookery, which also won the Children’s Bookseller of the Year award. The store has been owned by the Crediton community since 2013 and is run as a non-profit social enterprise. It increased its children’s book sales by more than 50% in 2021. “The Bookery could inspire any other bookstore that wants to be community-led and reach beyond the usual customer base,” said the judges.”He knows the power of books to change children’s lives and absolutely nails everything he does.”
Individual Bookseller of the Year went to Waterstones retail manager Kerry Gilmartin, responsible for North West England stores, while Micaela Alcaino took home designer of the year for his work on Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne (Wildfire), the fantasy novel by Jay Kristoff vampire empire (HarperVoyager) and on a new brand identity with a commercial bent for Lucy Diamond.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers won Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year while Vertebrate Publishing picked up Small Press of the Year. The British Book Award for Export saw Thames & Hudson win its first-ever Nibbie.
Penguin General’s Alexia Thomaidis and Zoe Coxon won Marketing Strategy of the Year for their work on Caleb Azumah Nelson’s debut The wide (Viking). “Introducing a new author to the world is never easy – even such a proactive author as this one, and especially in the midst of a pandemic…this marketing has created something out of nothing,” the judges said.
Advertising Campaign of the Year went to Profile Books’ Drew Jerrison for a ‘stunning’ campaign on Torrey Peters baby detransition, hailed by the judges as “a master class in planning and responsiveness…so many things could have gone wrong or done harm but Drew stayed calm and turned it all to the book’s advantage…it’s is a campaign to show any publicist who wants to know what author concern means”.
Canongate’s Jessica Neale won the Rights Professional of the Year award for tripling rights revenue in 2021 from a record total of nearly 300 deals. The judges said. “Canongate’s rights team could rest on Matt Haig’s laurels, but they make sure they never do. It’s become an international powerhouse… The scale of activity and the energy pure which emerge there are incredible.