The London Book Fair has just announced its new Trailblazer Awards, “for those roaring through their 20s,” in partnership with the UK’s Society of Young Publishers (SYP). The Awards seek “to celebrate the next generation of the UK publishing industry” and are open now to entrants and nominees under 30. However, there doesn’t seem to be any specific focus on digital innovation and e-publishing.

“As well as being honoured at a special celebration in January, hosted jointly with SYP, winners will win VIP entry to The London Book Fair, including exclusive access to The Club at the Ivy’s LBF pop-up and inclusion in the overall LBF International Excellence Awards,” says the LBF announcement. Criteria include “innovation, creativity, a can-do attitude, passion for the industry and for winning, ambition, and a desire to be the best at what they do.”

As you can see from that description, the definitions of innovation and creativity are left extremely vague. There’s also no sign of specific categories of Award, or indeed any details of how many Awards can be awarded. At present, the Awards entry procedure consists simply of a 50-word “description of why they should win,” with shortlisted candidates invited to submit a 60-second follow-up video. The SYP website doesn’t provide any more detail either.

As it happens, the UK does already have at least one prominent awards platform for achievements in digital publishing: The FutureBook Awards. This has categories such as Digital Leader of the Year, Digital Achiever of the Year, Book-Tech Company of the Year, Platform of the Year, and Best use of Digital in a Marketing/Publicity Campaign, as well as specific categories for best digital books. If the LBF’s Trailblazer Awards are really hoping to capture the coming wave in UK publishing, it would be good to see at least a little of that cutting-edge focus in their own platform. Perhaps as the Awards mature we’ll see more of this – one only hopes so.


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