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National Book Awards Entries Double

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According to the numbers being produced by the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, the island’s book industry is in a state of reasonable health, especially for a country with a small publishing industry and a populace constantly berated as ‘non-reading’. As the industry association moves toward the 12th staging of the biennial National Book Awards, the figures released show a doubling of entries into the competition over the past nine years.

The 2013 National Book Awards is slated to take place in November and entries were closed in at the end of May, after an extension to the original March deadline. The Awards are one of the seminal events staged by the BIAJ and recognizes publishers and authors. Additionally, the National Book Awards comprise a Publishing Award, decided by a panel of judges and a Reader’s Choice Awards where the public get their say on the island’s best books over the past two years.

A wide variety of publications including trade, text, fiction, non-fiction books as well as, journals, magazines and children’s books are eligible for the awards.

Dr. Norman Marshall, Chairman of the BIAJ, indicated that the entries are a positive reflection on the industry and suggest the potential of the publishing to Jamaica.

Dr Noman Marshall, Chairman of BIAJ“These entries signify the continued vibrance of the Jamaican publishing industry despite these trying economic times and marks the commitment of our sector to building the nation,” Dr. Marshall said via a release from the BIAJ.

“The book industry is an important part of Jamaica’s creative sector, and these creative sectors, with the right levels of investment and commitment, can lead the way for economic growth in Jamaica,” he said.

The level of growth was indicated in the new types of books that have been submitted for the scrutiny of the judges for the first time, as indicated by BIAJ Vice Chair Elizabeth Ramesar.

“This is the first year that we have received books of poetry,” she explained. “We’ve also received several self-published works resulting in a total of 11 entries for the Adult Creative Writing category in the Readers’ Choice Awards,” Ms. Ramesar said.

The Publishing Awards received a total of 65 entries vying for awards in 13 categories while the Readers’ Choice Awards received 22 entries in 4 categories. The figures are evidently modest, yet they represent more than 50% growth in the number of entries with each staging, a state which augers well for the island’s publishing sector.

The National Book Awards had received only 35 entries in 2004, a figure which has been doubled in 2013. Additionally, more books have been entered in more categories, with the number of publications increasing steadily. Between 2008 and 2011 the number of entries increased by 67% moving from 36 publications to 54 publications being entered in the competition.  This year also experience a marked growth over the 2011 staging with the number of entries growing by 80%.

The National Book Awards 2013 are scheduled for November 14.