Literary Prizes 2014: The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

The shortlist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction was announced last week at a press conference in Toronto. Congratulations to the five finalists!

At BookNet, we love literary awards season almost as much as we love jokes involving ONIX tags. This year, as always, we are out in full force to support the supply chain as it hustles to meet the increased demand for titles in the awards race.

For starters, if you have a CataList retail or library account and want to order all of the shortlisted titles in a snap, look no further than our Weston Prize CataList e-catalogue. Media and bloggers may also want to pop by the catalogue: it’s a one-stop shop for information about the books and authors, including all those little details (formats, page counts, publisher and distribution specifics, availability information for Canada) that can be a pain to track down otherwise.

Hilary Weston speaks at the Weston Prize press conferenceOne of the many good things about literary awards is that they help increase public awareness of quality Canadian titles that might otherwise be overlooked. News coverage, in-store displays (like the super-swanky ones Loblaws unveiled at the Weston Prize press conference), and increased word-of-mouth all lead to a better chance that interested readers can find a new favourite book… or discover a perfect holiday gift for someone else! 

Increased interest, of course, means publishers need to get stock ready to move, retailers need to place their orders in time to have books on the shelf when the winner is announced, and basically all the cogs in the publishing supply chain need to be oiled up and ready to move. And BookNet is there to help!

BookNet supplies a custom research report on sales performance trends connected to the relevant literary prize to any SalesData-subscribing publisher with a title on the list. For the rest of us, the question on all of our minds is “So… do literary awards affect sales?” To shed some light on the situation, below are a sampling of our Weston Prize findings. Enjoy!

  • The 2013 Weston Prize winner, Graeme Smith’s The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, saw a hefty 653%* spike in sales the week after it was shortlisted, and then a more modest 129% jump the week after it took home the prize.
  • By comparison, the 2012 winner, Candace Savage’s A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, saw only a slight increase of sales during the shortlist period. Upon winning the prize, however, sales for the title spiked 181% and then continued to rise steadily through the holiday season. 
  • Canadian retailers cover their bases when it comes to this prize: on-hand and on-order numbers for all shortlisted titles see an appreciable jump when the shortlist is announced. 

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View the Hilary Weston Prize shortlist on CataList.

*A note on percentages: Keep in mind that when a title has modest initial sales, a large percentage increase doesn’t necessarily indicate massive sales. That said, the percentage increase does serve as a reliable indicator of increased visibility and interest in the title.