The Giller Shortlist: What Can Publishers Expect?

Each year since 2005 BookNet Canada has been actively tracking and comparing the performance of the Giller nominees and winners. On the day that the shortlist announces we send a Giller Report to all nominated publishing firms who are subscribers to BNC SalesData. This report is created in order to give publishers a sense of what to expect during the award season, and to help nominees with stock and demand planning. The report includes a trend analysis of last year’s shortlist and winner, as well as a comparison in sales and stock position between the 2005 to 2010 winners.

What did we find? In a nutshell: the Giller effect is alive and well. Based on BNC’s research, the Scotiabank Giller Prize is the Canadian literary award with the biggest impact on book sales. Sales obviously vary from year to year but here are a couple of our observations:

  • The Scotiabank Giller Prize generates increasing sales each year. From 2005 to 2010 tracked sales have almost doubled year over year at peak periods
  • There is an increase in sales immediately following the shortlist announcement. This increase is seen for every nominated title, and is augmented in titles that had comparatively modest sales before the shortlist announcement.
  • For the shortlist in 2010, post- announcement sales (two weeks after the announcement) were, on average, three times the amount of pre-announcement sales.
  • In 2010 the winning title, The Sentimentalist, post-announcement sales (two weeks after the announcement) were approximately five-and-a-half times the amount of pre-announcement sales. Special circumstances in demand may have impacted this sales trend as stock was becoming more widely available at that time. During the weeks leading up to Christmas sales for the winning title spiked considerably
  • Does format have an impact? In 2006 the sales that Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures saw were well above the norm. The media attention given to the emergency room doctor who is a Giller Prize-winning author on the side made 2006 an unusual year for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. In 2010, Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists was also an unusual case. It received attention for being almost unavailable in stores, and, did not increase in sales until a week after its win. It flourished during the Christmas season. These two titles are also the only ones studied that were available in paperback, which may have been a factor in increasing sales.

Overall, the performance of Giller titles seems virtually unstoppable with growth continuing every year.

SalesData subscribers are able to see a full report with week-by-week performance. They can access by logging in to our document repository with their  SalesData subscriber user name and password (found onBNC SalesData home page when you log in).

eNews subscribers have access to a redacted version of the report which outlines the trends but doesn’t include volume sales figures. This one can be accessed by logging in to the repository with your eNews credentials. If you want to become an eNews subscriber, just sign up! It’s free.