The Quills Awards, people’s choice book prizes which for two years have struggled to catch on with the public, are being privatized.
Again there will be five finalists in each of 19 categories, from best debut author to biography-memoir. But while the public chose the winners in previous years, this time booksellers and librarians will do virtually all the deciding. The people will only vote in a 20th category: Book of the Year.
“We wanted to streamline consumer participation and add to the credibility of those who are named winners,” Quills founder and chairman Gerry Byrne said Thursday, adding that the decision had been made after consulting with publishers and NBC Universal Television Stations, which again will air the event.
The Quills, organized by NBC Universal and Reed Business Information, which issues Variety and Publishers Weekly, were founded in 2005 with the mission to liven up literary awards. But the Quills have yet to attract much interest or generate sales despite two starry ceremonies that have featured celebrities such as Caroline Kennedy, Jon Stewart and Donald Trump.
Last fall’s show, at the American Museum of Natural History, angered and puzzled the publishing community, with many complaining that the three-hour affair was too long and poorly organized. Numerous winners didn’t show up and several tables were empty by the time the last award was announced.
Byrne said this fall’s ceremony will be shorter, around an hour and a half, and simpler, with all winners except Book of the Year announced a month in advance. “It will be a celebration of the written word,” Byrne said of the event, to be held Oct. 22 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Nominees will be announced June 2, with winners in 19 categories to be named Sept. 10. Voters will then have one month, until Oct. 10, to choose Book of the Year by visiting such Web sites as www.quillsvote.com and www.msnbc.msn.com.
NBC Universal will air the Quills program Oct. 27.