Nora Roberts, Maya Angelou and former Vice President Al Gore were among the winners Tuesday night of the second annual Quills Awards, a people’s choice even for the book world.
Caroline Kennedy received an honorary award for her “commitment to providing support for education and literacy in New York,” while Donald Trump and Harry Connick Jr. served as presenters along with several other celebrities, including Stanley Tucci and Suzanne Somers. The event was held at the American Museum of Natural History, where hundreds dined under a life-sized replica of a blue whale.
Roberts won for best romance book for her novel “Blue Smoke.” Angelou received the poetry award for “Amazing Peace” and Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” was cited for best political-history book. The Book of the Year was Tyler Perry’s “Don’t Make a Black Woman Take off her Earrings.”
Winners were decided by the public, which voted through two online links, www.quillsvote.com and at www.quills.msnbc.com. There were no cash prizes.
Created last year by NBC Universal Television Stations and Reed Business Information in an attempt to make publishing awards more glamorous and accessible, the Quills so far have attracted little attention beyond the publishing industry, with virtually no sales impact for nominated books. Comscore Networks, Inc., an Internet research firm that monitors Web traffic, was unable to compile any numbers on visits to the Quills links, saying low traffic was the likely reason.
Even several publishers attending Tuesday night’s ceremony acknowledged not voting, among them Alfred A. Knopf head Sonny Mehta, who laughed and said “I didn’t know if I could vote for my own writers.” (He could.)
Ninety-five nominees in 19 categories were chosen by thousands of booksellers and librarians. They were required to meet one of several possible criteria, such as an appearance on the best seller list of Borders Group Inc., or a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
The event will be aired on at least 100 NBC stations on Oct. 28.