When it comes to award ceremonies, the film industry has the book world licked. As Hollywood rolls out its red carpet and stars prepare to be overcome with surprise, gratitude and lurv towards anyone in the radius of their star-spangled tears, we might yawn at the tedium of the ceremony (check out 6 Things We Can Learn from the Oscars on the write-hook blog) but how huge is the media effect? How many column inches are expended on that one evening compared to the occasional piece in the broadsheets when Booker/Costa announce the shortlists or report a falling out amongst judges?
How much better would it be to have one or two major ceremonies (like Oscars and Baftas) each year where all the major prizes are handed out? If you think there aren’t enough book prizes to make a splash, just try a bit of googling and you might be surprised. This list has forty major UK/Irish prizes. and that’s doesn’t include books for children (surely worth a whole night to themselves). And with Costa extending their prize list to include short stories, how good would it be to broaden the concept of literary awards by including all those worthy and highly sought-after prizes (Romantic Novel of the Year, The Dagger Awards and British Science Fiction Awards) for the genre fiction that keeps the publishing industry on its feet, not to mention the non-fiction and biography prizes.
Every book featured on such a night would get far more publicity than it does now, and with the extra media hype more sponsors might come forward offering more and better prizes, or upping the money already on offer.
Yes, yes, yes there might be a few administrative problems to sort out, but by and large, what’s not to like? The only problem I can see is that a few
stick in the mud reclusive authors might not particularly relish a moment in this kind of spotlight, but I’m sure we could get around this in the usual way by having a publisher or colleague pick up the prize. Or for added sparkle, maybe we could import a few celebs (I’m thinking Meryl Streep rather than Mariella Frostrup) to do readings hand-out prizes or even just do what they do so well – look good and gush.
Daft? Maybe my idea needs a bit of thinking through, but in this media-obsessed world, it’s time books (and writers) got in on the action.
(Actually, good old Colin isn’t much of a gusher, but still a good excuse to include a pic!)