My question to you is this. Are there enough awards in the bookselling and publishing industry? Do we have all the bases covered? Most of us are familiar with a fair swag of literary prizes, what with the Nobel, Man Booker, the Miles Franklin, the CBC, Kate Greenaway, Carnegie, and Dublin Prizes, various PM and Premiers’ awards, not to mention a full swag of Costas, Daggers, Oranges, Varunas, Pulitzers, Koalas, Indies, Hugos, ROMAs. And they are just for writers – by the time we throw in the publishers’ prizes, for design, marketing, flogging (ahem: selling), we’ve got to be in the 100s in the English speaking world alone.
Despite this, there is one area that I think has been sadly overlooked. In fact, I think it is up to Booktopia to establish a new award institution, an institution that I will call the Booktopia Award for the Longest Bow. For those of you unfamiliar with this now rarely used expression, to draw a long bow means to come to a conclusion not generally supported by the evidence. Put simply, it means to exaggerate, or sometimes even, to lie through your teeth. You know what I mean – Margaret Mead is responsible for the sexual revolution, the Iraq war caused the global credit crisis, that sort of thing.
Nominees for The Longest Bow (known hereafter as The Lobbies) will be chosen from amongst the winners of the three sub-categories, namely:
The RRT Lobby – given to the book/genre with the most rapid response time from the original stimulus to the introduction of the book to the marketplace
The Biggest Loser Lobby – given to the book/genre which bombed the most spectacularly
and my own personal favourite,
The Most Audacious Try-on. Definition: Remember the definition of chutzpah? The murderer who, having killed both his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan? Well, it’s that idea, but in a book.
Some cases in point.
While the world held its collective breath in late January as Nelson Mandela struggled in hospital with a respiratory infection, my inbox was flooded with reminders to order up big titles such as Conversations with Myself, The Long Walk to Freedom (both adult and picture book version) and Invictus. I am not sure how reports of his return to good health and spirit were taken by the publishers – I assume they have held off on the re-print button for now at least – but I do think that the timely reminder of Mandela retrospective books would certainly be up for consideration for the RRT Lobby if he had in fact met his untimely demise.
As to The Biggest Loser Lobby? No question there as to my nomination. The sludge (read as “deluge of drivel”) of children’s nonfiction, fiction, picture and activity books that came out last year in the month’s leading up to the World Cup, only to languish dismally on our site despite every effort to shift the damn things. Kids apparently know more than adults after all.
Now, to the Most Audacious Try-On. And so we come to one of my favourite topics, the impending nuptials between the fair Kate and the dashing William, which in case you haven’t heard, will take place on that green and pleasant island in the North Sea on April 29.
Guess what I have had presented to me by admittedly somewhat sheepish publishers in the last couple of days?
The latest in the now more than one hundred strong Rainbow Magic series for fairy-obsessed newly independent readers is, nothing less than Kate: The Royal Wedding Fairy. And check out the cover – why it is Kate herself, miniaturised and with a wand. Available for bricks and mortar retailers also in a fabulous wedding counter pack, this April release is described as having great contemporary appeal.
And what a story! Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy makes sure that all weddings are happy and magical! But when mean Jack Frost steals the True Love Crown, the Fairyland royal wedding is sure to be a disaster. Can Kirsty and Rachel find the crown so the royal couple will live happily ever after?
Surely a contender.
Mind you, the clever marketing brains behind Daisy Meadows (I kid you not) are not a patch on those at Mills and Boon whose May releases include these especially put together bind-ups to help us “celebrate the wedding of the century”.
Royal Wedding comprise best selling royal back-list titles including:
Meanwhile, Royal Affairs includes The Desert King’s Virgin Bride by Sharon Kendrick in which Sheikh of Kharastan, Malikhas, has not time for distractions. But when Sorrel, an English woman in his care, wants to explore the pleasures of the east, Malik decides he will be the one to teach her the ways of seduction as well. Also included is Desert Prince, Defiant Virgin by Kim Lawrence, which recounts the first priority of heir to the throne Prince Tair Al Sharif. It is certainly not bespectacled teacher Molly James until, as his innocent captive, he must pay the price for keeping her in the desert overnight! The final book in this collection is The Sheikh’s Virgin Princess by Sarah Morgan.
But there are some missed opportunities here when it comes to the impending event.
For the littlies, bring back Shrek. Now there was a royal wedding to remember. And what about a Teletubbies version – I’m thinking about Tinky Winky and Laa-Laa. Uh-oh. For upper primary and into teen years, why not dust off Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series. For the somewhat more cynical, there is JG Ballard’s Crash. Oh no, it is only the title that it is relevant, not the content. Now, for wannabe-princesses (with Harry in their sights), there is always Ita’s upcoming primer, The Australian Guide to Etiquette. Well, it worked for our Mary.
Meanwhile, it is not as if the publishers have been lying idle. While these may not be contenders for the Lobbies, there are a few options for wedding die-hards. We have everything from The Royal Wedding for Dummies (categorised under lifestyle/fashion/weddings if you search that way) to every different take on the happy couple’s true love story. If you really want to go to town, go here for William and Kate and here for royal wedding books.
I do have one observation about the straight-down-the-line W&K books. Why is Kate always on Will’s right in the cover shots? Is there a law about that? Don’t laugh about the dress-up dolly book – the one on Mr and Mrs Obama sold out at Christmas. People couldn’t get enough of it and I bet it wasn’t seven and eight year old girls who were doing the buying. As for the knitting book, let me just say that over Christmas, we sold out of Knitivity, with all its patterns for mangers, donkeys, wise men etc.
And now, for a right royal related selection that definitely would be up for the Longest Bow, if employees of Booktopia were allowed to enter the competition. And they are all in stock ready to ship.
Feel free to nominate your own contender for the Lobbies. I am sure I have missed some very obvious choices!