1 Sep 2009
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Fewer categories, more judges and bigger prizes are key features of plans to streamline the New Zealand Book Awards from next year.
Books will be judged in four main categories: Poetry, Fiction, Illustrated Non-fiction and General Non-fiction, with a finalist list of 16. A ‘Book of the Year‘ will be chosen from the finalists.
With fewer categories, the prize pool has been substantially increased, with the overall winner of ‘Book of the Year’ receiving $15,000. Winners of the four Category Awards will each receive $10,000, the Māori Language Award $10,000, Readers’ Choice Award $5,000, and the winners of the three NZSA Best First Book Awards, $2500.
A public review process has led to the changes for the Awards which will be known in future as the New Zealand Post Book Awards.
The Awards, formerly sponsored by Montana, are administered by Booksellers New Zealand. Stakeholders including authors, publishers, booksellers and the public were invited to make submissions which were reviewed by the Awards Advisory Committee including representatives of publishers, authors, booksellers and Creative New Zealand. Eleven submissions were received and the committee reached consensus on the new structure.
“This timely review has generated great interest and debate within the trade. There was clear agreement within the Advisory Committee that the Awards would benefit from a simpler structure,” said Booksellers Chief Executive, Lincoln Gould.
The finalists will be announced on Tuesday 22 June 2010. On that day, winners of the Māori Language Award, and of the three NZSA Best First Book Awards for Poetry, Fiction and Non-fiction, will also be announced.
“This very positive change is designed to ensure that the very best New Zealand books rise to the top, and can be well-promoted to the book-loving public,” said Gould.
The extremely popular Readers’ Choice Award is the public’s opportunity to vote for their favourite book of the 16 finalist titles selected by the judges. The winner of this award will be announced at a ceremony to be held in Auckland at the end of August 2010, along with the four Category Award winners, from which an overall winner will be pronounced Book of the Year.
“We have also made the decision to expand the judging panel from three to five; four judges and one judge/convenor. If additional Te Reo skills are required to judge the Māori Language Award, an advisor will be appointed. Equally, if the panel requires expert assistance in any given subject area, it will be sought,” said Gould.
“It is important that this judging panel covers a wide range of skills and expertise, and we are calling for expressions of interest from those who’d like to sit on that panel, to judge New Zealand’s best books published in 2009. In the past some of this country’s most highly respected authors, academics, reviewers, publishers and booksellers have sat on the panel of judges. It is a big job, obviously involves a lot of reading and as a result will be very stimulating – the richer and more diverse the applicants, the better,” Gould indicated.
Those wishing to apply must complete the application form (available on www.booksellers.co.nz), and provide a brief curriculum vitae to the Awards Administrator by 1 October 2009. The judging panel will be selected by the Awards Advisory Committee, comprised of stakeholder representatives.