Before I start, yes, I know there are already slews of awards for books. There is even the National Book Awards, which has all kinds of categories and a ceremony every year. Yes, that’s all true, but I don’t care.
For one thing, the National Book Awards (NBA) are even more obscure than the Oscars. I consider myself an avid reader but when I went through the list of ALL the NBA winners from 1950 to the present, I had barely heard of any of them and I had only read two (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: 1961-Nonfiction, and Holes: 1998-Young People’s Literature). Both of these were good books, but I don’t think anyone would contend that book awards are as glitzy as TV or movie awards.
But they should be.
Some things are going to need to change. Here is my idea. I think together we can make them happen.
1. Design a Whole New Awards Show
This is all about branding. We need a new show with a distinctive name for the awards. Taking after the Golden Globes, you could call it the Golden Pen (even though Golden Keyboard might be more accurate these days). Personally, I prefer the Bookies. It has shock value and common sense wrapped up into one. But, of course, that exists already as well. Maybe the Inkies? Any better ideas?
They need to be televised too. I don’t care if they won’t have the market of the other awards shows, it’s just got to happen. And I don’t mean on PBS either. To get this done, we need to make a grand, garish spectacle of it. Grotesque even. I want to see Stephen King juggling chainsaws on stage and Neil Gaiman doing an interpretive dance to Ke$ha. Who wouldn’t want to see that, right?
2. Make Interesting Categories
The National Book Awards have all the categories you’d expect: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, various genres, etc. That’s all fine, but if the Oscars have Best Makeup and Best Film Editing, what can books have? Here are some suggestions:
- Best Protagonist
- Best Villain
- Best Supporting Character
- Best Illustrations
- Best Cover Art
- Best Passage of Description
- Best Passage of Dialogue
- Best Twist Ending
The problem with that last one is that they couldn’t reveal the twist ending without everyone who hadn’t read it yet being really annoyed, but maybe it’s their own fault if they’re watching/attending the awards and haven’t read all the nominations yet.
3. Bring Authors into Pop Culture
I’ll bet the number of authors you could pick out of a lineup are so small you could count them on your fingers. At least the living ones. That’s the problem with authors; they hide behind their words. Okay, so it’s not really a problem but it is if we want a huge, red-carpet awards ceremony where everyone discusses what Amy Tan was wearing the next day. We need tabloids that only follow author scandals and paparazzi who follow around China Mieville or John Grisham to find out what they’re up to. The writers have to play their part too, of course, and not just go to the grocery store and hang out at the bookstore for three hours. It would at least make me watch TMZ.
What do you think? Any nominations for me?
And the award goes to…