Friday, March 22, 2013

Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year

My friend Debbie tells me that she loves that I choose books with odd titles. Well, the books I have read have nothing to brag about next to the winner of this year's Diagram Prize.

But let me back up. The Diagram Prize celebrates its 35th year in 2013, after first being founded as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. Bruce Robinson, the founder of the Diagram Group, a publishing solutions firm, established the first prize in 1978, with the crown going to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. (from The Bookseller website.)

The winner this year: Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop

The full shortlist and their share of the vote:
1) Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (Conari Press) 38%
2) How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior (Murdoch Books) 31%
3) God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman (Square Peg) 14%
4) How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (Melville House) 13%
5) Was Hitler Ill? by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle (Polity Press) 3%
6) Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne (Foy's Pet Supplies) 1%

The rules are pretty loose:
People cannot nominate their own works, nor can they select books they publish themselves. Titles which are deliberately created to be funny are normally rejected. Following two occasions in 1987 and 1991 when no prize was given due to a lack of odd titles, The Bookseller opened suggestions to the readers of the magazine. In 2000, the winner was voted for by the public instead of being decided by administrator Horrace Bent. In 2009, online submissions sent on Twitter were accepted. This resulted in the highest number of submissions for the prize in its history, with 90 books being submitted (50 from Twitter), almost three times the number from the previous year (32). However, Bent also expressed his annoyance at people who gave submissions that broke the rules, with some of the books mentioned being published as far back as 1880.

All-in-all, none of the titles appeal to me, but I supposed there is a readership for everyone.

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