What Is the British Book Award?

The British Book Awards are an annual awards ceremony in the UK. Their intent is to honor the best of the year in Britain’s publishing industry and to enhance public awareness of the nominees and winners. The awards are heavilly promoted by the UK’s publishing trade journal Publishing News. The British Book Awards are also known as the “Nibbies” because the trophy handed out at the annual ceremony looks like a golden pen nib. The Nibbies were first launched in 1990 and have grown significantly in scope over the years. The Nibbies brings a good deal of media attention to the industry and there are several famous British authors who have been recipients over the years. The Nibbies are administered by the Academy of the British Book Industry whose members include publishers, booksellers, literary agents, and retail suppliers. The main sponsor for the awards is the British chocolate company Galaxy. They have worked with the publishing industry to create book clubs, reviews, and free book synopses in order to promote literature within the UK. As a supporter of new talent, the Nibbies continue to be one of the premiere literary awards in Britain.

History of the British Book Awards

The British Book Awards were founded by a man named Fred Newman who was the co-founder of the company Publishing News in 1979. The British Book Awards got their start through the advice of Martyn Gott and Graham C. Greene who worked along with Fred Newman and Publishing News to create the annual awards. The very first British Book Awards were held on January 18, 1990. It was held at The Park Lane Hotel and was a sell-out event. The next year, the Nibbies were held in an even larger venue to an even larger crowd. The new awards quickly proved to be successful. They have since been held every year.


In 1994, the Academy of the British Book Industry was founded to oversee both the Nibbies and the other popular British literary awards, the British Book Industry Awards. Sponsorship plays a heavy role in the Nibbies, as well. Even though the chocolate company Galaxy is the main sponsor, there are others who contribute to each category. Other sponsors include Reader’s Digest, Vista Computer Systems, Borders, Play.com, and BCA.

Requirements and Criteria for the British Book Awards

Like all other awards of its kind, the British Book Awards has its own set of guidelines and rules. It is up to the publishers to make nominations for the Nibbies, although individuals within companies can nominate entries as well. All entries must have been published in the UK within the last year. Publishers must submit three copies of each nomination for review. A review panel, chosen each year by the Academy, examine all the nominated entired and creates a shortlist of finalists. Books that are shortlisted the previous year but did not win are eligible to be nominated again. Members of the Academy vote twice a year to create these shortlists. When submitting a nomination, all entries must have all of their important information listed such as title, author, imprint, publication date, current format, proposed paperback or trade publication date.

The British Book Awards currently have ten different categories. They are: Book of the Year, Author of the Year, Crime Thriller of the Year, New Writer of the Year, Popular Fiction Award, Popular Non-Fiction Award, Biography of the Year, Children’s Book of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year.

Besides the golden trophy and the title, the winners of each year are automatically bestowed with life membership to the Academy and many are recognised as Honorary Fellows.

British Book Award Winners

The following recipients are all winners of the current categories for the British Book Awards:

The Lifetime Achievement Award

2008 J.K. Rowling

2007 John Grisham

2006 Jamie Oliver

2005 Sir John Mortimer

2004 Sir David Attenborough

2003 Alan Bennett

2002 Mark Barty-King

2001 Ernest Hecht

2000 Spike Milligan

1999 Maeve Binchy

1998 Jilly Cooper

1997 Paul Scherer

1996 Wilbur Smith

1995 Delia Smith

1994 Catherine Cookson

1993 Dr. D.G.Hessayon

Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year

2008 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

2007 The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

2006 Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

2005 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2004 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Book of the Year

2008 Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

2007 The Dangerous Book for Boys by Con & Hal Iggulden

2006 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

2005 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

2004 Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne truss

2003 Stupid White Men by Michael Moore

2002 Billy by Pamela Stephenson

2001 Man and Boy by Tony Parsons

2000 Managing My Life by Alex Ferguson

1999 Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

1998 Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

1997 Longitude by Dava Sobel

1996 Delia Smith’s Winter Collection

1995 Writing Home by Alan Bennett

1994 Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Author of the Year

2008 Ian McEwan

2007 Richard Dawkins

2006 Alan Bennett

2005 Sheila Hancock

2004 Alexander McCall Smith

2003 Sarah Waters

2002 Philip Pullman

2001 Nigella Lawson

2000 J K Rowling

1999 Beryl Bainbridge

1998 Louis de Bernieres

1997 Bill Bryson

1996 Salman Rushdie

1995 Sebastian Faulks

1994 Roddy Doyle

1993 Andrew Morton

1992 Peter Mayle

1991 Peter Ackroyd

1990 HRH, Prince of Wales

Biography of the Year

2008 My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

2007 The Sound of Laughter by Peter Kay

2006 Sharon Osbourne Extreme by Sharon Osbourne

2005 My Life by Bill Clinton

2004 Toast by Nigel Slater

2003 Churchill by Roy Jenkins

Children’s Book of the Year

2008 Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman by Francesca Simon

2007 Flanimals of the Deep by Ricky Gervais

2006 Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz

2005 The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

2004 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

2003 Girls in Tears by Jacqueline Wilson

2002 Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

2001 The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

2000 The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

1999 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling

1998 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling

1997 Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

1996 The Hutchinson treasury of Children’s Literature edited by Alison Sage

Crime Thriller of the Year

2008 Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

2007 The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin

2006 The Take by Martina Cole

2005 Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin

Newcomer of the Year

2008 Catherine O’Flynn

2007 Victoria Hislop

2006 Marina Lewycka

2005 Susanna Clarke

2004 Monica Ali

2003 Allison Pearson

2002 Pete McCarthy

2001 Zadie Smith

2000 Sort Of Books and Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart

1999 Borders UK

1998 Daisy & Tom

1997 Kate Atkinson

1990 Bryce Courtenay

Popular Fiction Award

2008 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

2007 Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes

2006 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Popular Non-Fiction Award

2008 Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman

Past British Book Awards

The following categories have all since been retired but their winners are still recognized for their merit.

The Children’s Author of the Year

1995 Allan & Janet Ahlberg

1994 Anne Fine

1993 Raymond Briggs

1992 Dick King-Smith

1991 Anne Fine

1990 Roald Dahl

The Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year

1995 The Most Amazing Pop-Up Science Book by Jay Young

1994 Mummy Laid an Egg by Babette Cole

1993 Penguin Small by Mick Inkpen

1992 Farmer Duck by Helen Oxenbury

1991 The Mousehole Cat by Nicola Bayley

The Illustrated Book of the Year

2004 England’s Thousand Best Houses by Simon Jenkins

2003 Sahara by Michael Palin

2002 The Blue Planet by Andrew Byatt, Alastair Fothergill, Martha Holmes

2001 The Beatles Anthology

2000 Century by Bruce Bernard

1999 Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs

1998 The Lost Gardens of Heligan by Tim Smit

1997 Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey

1996 The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers

1995 The Art Book

The TV & Film Book of the Year

2007 The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

2006 The Constant Gardener by John le Carré

2005 Himalaya by Michael Palin

2004 How Clean Is Your House by Kim Woodburn & Aggie MacKenzie

2003 What Not To Wear by Trinny Woodall & Susannah Constantine

The Literary Fiction Award

2005 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2004 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The History Book of the Year

2005 William Pitt the Younger by William Hague

2004 Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Sports Book of the Year

2007 Gerrard: My Autobiography by Steven Gerrard

2006 Being Freddie by Andrew Flintoff

2005 Gazza: My Story by Paul Gascoigne

2004 Martin Johnson: The Autobiography

The Audiobook of the Year

2004 Forgotten Voices of the Great War by Max Arthur

2003 Series of Unfortunate Events written by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry

2002 The Laying on of Hands written & read by Alan Bennett

The deciBel Writer of the Year

2007 Jackie Kay

2006 Diana Evans

2005 Hari Kunzru

The Fastest Selling Biography of All Time

2004 My Side by David Beckham

The Travel Writer of the Year

1993 Michael Palin Pole to Pole by Michael Palin

1992 Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand

1991 India by V.S. Naipaul

1990 A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

The Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of the Year

1994 Terry Pratchett

Bestseller of the Year

1991 Delia Smith’s Christmas