Monday, 13 October 2014

Book Fair Prize Roundup

Frankfurt has a whole lotta prizes going on, and here are a few of them:

The Hotlist 2014 prize for indie publishers went to Lars Müller Publishers for Menschen am Cern, which the publisher (Lars Müller) called a novel in photos. It's a book of pictures of people who work in the otherwise rather secret nuclear research facility near Geneva. The indie publishers had a really great party with a fabulous award ceremony, presented by the extremely good Claudia Cosmo. She had the best outfit and the best jokes of the week. It could have been a weeny bit shorter though.

The Virenschleuder PR prizes went to the Lessing & Kompanie bookshop for their wonderful, wonderful Tumblr page, the Pinakotheken im Kunstareal München (I have no idea what this is and what it has to do with books) and to the writer, translator, publisher and personality Zoe Beck.

The Young Excellence Award went to writer, publisher and general mover & shaker Nikola Richter.

The Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis went to Claude K. Dubois/Tobias Scheffel for Akim rennt, Martina Wildner for Königin des Sprungturms, Inés Garland/Ilse Layer for Wie ein unsichtbares Band, Heidi Trpak/Laura Momo Aufderhaar for Gerda Gelse – and the young people's jury went for Wunder by Raquel J. Palacio/André Mumot.

Translator, lexicographer and bookseller Regine Elsässer is Bücherfrau des Jahres.

Katrin Lange from the Literaturhaus in Munich got the honorary thanks for being good to translators award, the Übersetzerbarke.

And the culture minister Monika Grütters presented something that looks interesting: a new award from the government to support bookshops. According to the press release:
The "German Booksellers' Prize" has a total prize fund of one million euro and will be awarded by the culture minister from 2015. The prize will benefit smaller, owner-operated bookshops in Germany that excel through innovative business models, particularly programmes supporting reading and literature or cultural events. The main awards have a prize of 25,000 euro each, with other prizes worth 15,000 euro and 7,000 euro each.
Grütters has previously criticized Amazon and sided with German writers who wrote an open letter to the online retail giant, and this award was teasered back in August in that context. Asked about Amazon's tax practices at that time ("Does it annoy you?"), Grütters (CDU) responded:
We all know that many companies look for ways to optimize profit. It would be populist to castigate Amazon for its economic success and its ideas. The discount negotiations, which are carried out on the backs of authors if they really are removed from Amazon's catalogues, are more relevant in terms of cultural policy in my view and are unacceptable in this form, in my opinion. In addition, the discounted sums benefit neither the publishers, nor the writers, nor the readers. This is the point where we have to be careful not to endanger our cultural diversity by acting unconsciously or uncritically as consumers.
In other words, don't blame the government for letting Amazon pay "next to no tax" in Germany, as she put it – blame yourselves for buying from them. But hey, she's helping small booksellers.
There'll also be an extra million for special conservative literary projects, such as buying up manuscripts by dead white men. That'll show Amazon, huh?

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