Friday, August 05, 2005

No, It's not a Porcupine or a Racy Movie...'s the newest award for books. Brought to us by the joint team of Publishers Weekly and Borders Books, The Quills approach literature in a manner similar to the way Billboard Magazine and the Peoples Choice Awards approach music. Straight off their site, The Quill Awards are a consumer-driven celebration of the written word created to inspire reading while promoting literacy.

I have no problem with this, so long as they are upfront about their process and the goals for the awards. And all things considered, they seem to be. The end goal is money, to get more people interested in different books by touting the best books as considered by Publishers Weekly and specially selected subscribers who took part in the awards process. Now that the nominees are listed, consumers can start voting as early as August 15 either on the Quills website or at participating Borders Books locations. The awards are presented in October, and will be televised across the U.S. on your local NBC station. Assuming they don't have anything better to run, that is.

You can check out all the nominees for yourselves. There are almost 20 categories, with 5 nominess in each category. I have little quibbles with choices here and there (such as over half of the poetry nominees being long dead), but the ones that perplex me the most are the ones under the graphic novel category. Ranging from biographies to fantasies and everything in between, I would think it would be almost impossible to choose a winner based on artistic merits. Nominee Neil Gaiman probably says it best with, "I'm not sure any of those five things are comparable anyway, other than they all have words and pictures". But then, it's a consumer poll and artistic merit may or may not play into it at all.

I'll give them credit for making the category, though. It's an area of publishing that most critics, editors and companies don't quite know how to interpret and market yet. Bookstores and libraries alike put brilliant works like Jimmy Corrigan and Mother Come Home right alongside collections of Archie and Jughead. I could argue that the Bone volume and Pekar's book are collections, not novels, but I don't have any real problems with any of the nomimees. A few quality books are missing from the list, I feel, but isn't that always the case? We all have our favorites.


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