The Giller: Alive and kicking

With the chilly weather slowly but surely encroaching, it is once again that time of the year when the Canadian publishing world holds its breath in anticipation of the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist announcement.

Here at BookNet, we have also been eagerly waiting – on the day of the shortlist announcement, we send a painstakingly prepared Giller Report to all nominated publishers who subscribe to BNC SalesData. This report lets publishers know what to expect during the award season, including a trend analysis of last year's shortlist and winner, and sales comparisons for the 2010-2015 winners.

The short story is: The Giller effect is most definitely alive, as the award retains its status as the Canadian literary award with the biggest impact on book sales.

To satisfy those fact zombies out there who want the short story to be a little longer, here are some more observations:

  • Immediately following the 2015 shortlist announcement, every nominated title saw increases in units sold.
  • Post-announcement sales (i.e., for the two weeks after the shortlist announcement) were, on average, almost 4.5 times the volume of pre-announcement sales.
  • 2015's winning title, Fifteen Dogs, saw post-announcement sales (i.e., for the two weeks after the winner announcement) more than 6 times the volume of pre-announcement sales. These sales continued to grow leading into Christmas.
  • The redacted graph below, which omits volume sales figures, compares units sold between the 2015 shortlisted titles for the period of time leading up to the longlist announcement until Christmas:
  • Sales for the Giller winner increase each year: between 2013 and 2015, sales during the 18 weeks observed almost doubled, year-over-year.
  • Interestingly, when looking at the last six years, the three Giller winners with the highest units sold in this 18-week period were only available in trade paperback. These three titles are The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud, Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, and last year's winner, Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. Is format a factor in increasing sales? Perhaps.

So there you have it. With the shortlist announcement for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize on Monday, Sept. 26, we're excited to see the amazing titles that will grace our next Giller report in 2017—and we're hopeful that they will join the unstoppable wave of bestselling Canadian books that are the Giller nominees.