Take This Quill and Shove It

In an effort not to be outdone by 50 Cent and Diddy and the various after parties at the MTV Video Music Awards, the folks at what’s ominously known as Reed Business Information have announced the details and nominees for the first Quill Awards. You may be asking “What the hell is a Quill Award?” — I know I sure did. Apparently the Quill Award is hyped to be the literary equivalent of the People’s Choice Awards — and like the People’s Choice Awards where the nominees are chosen by editors of such fine publications as Entertainment Weekly, the Quill Awards nominees are selected by bookseller and librarian subscribers to Publisher’s Weekly. (Did I mention that Reed Business Information is the parent company of Publisher’s Weekly?) You can see the nominees in each category here and yes, my friends, there is a Bob Dylan nod. Some have said the choices are “interesting” or “bizarre”. Frankly I find them predictable, safe and a little boring. Not the works themselves, naturally, but choosing them isn’t exactly going out on a limb here. But, it is based on popularity, after all and is touted to be “a consumer driven celebration of the written word” — hoo boy, indeed. I’m sure I’m being overly critical, but something just didn’t set right with me after taking a look at their nominating criteria:


Must meet one of the following:
–Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly
–Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Program
–BookSense Picks
–Border Original Voices
–Bestseller lists from Publishers Weekly, Book Sense, Barnes & Noble, and Borders

And then comparing it with the goal of “The Quills”:

–Celebrate Excellence in Writing and Publishing
–Recognize and praise the creators of important books and great literature
–Interest more consumers in acquiring books and reading
–Act as a bellwether for literacy initiatives

Perhaps we are all just supposed to be happy that there is another award recognizing literature and writers (I am glad to see that at least there’s a poetry category), but I can’t help but hear “marketing circus” every time I read something about this event. At the very least, the name leaves a lot to be desired. “Hey, ma, I won a Quill!” doesn’t have the same ring as Oscar, Grammy or Tony. They could have named it “The Safran Foers” or “The Darlings” to give it some pizzaz. But no one asked me, so I guess we’re stuck with “The Quills”. So prestigious and respectable.

In any case, starting August 15, you can cast your vote for the winners by going here or to your local Borders establishment (*cough* marketing circus *cough*). Don’t forget to buy some of those books while you’re there, ya hear? Anyway, check out the nominees, and tell us who you’d like to see win this popularity contest or if you even care.

10 Responses

  1. creaky stuffYeah, I agree
    creaky stuff

    Yeah, I agree with your derision. I don’t like the commercial/trendy choices (enough with Nick Hornby already), I don’t like sales-oriented categories like “Audio Books”, and I can’t stand the name “Quills” (in fact, very few modern authors still write with quills).

    As for the poetry category, one of the five nominees is Gilgamesh (finally getting his Quill after all these milleniums), two are dead, and one is a former United States Poet Laureate.

    And where the hell is the category for best litblog (winner: LitKicks)?

  2. I prefer to think of it as
    I prefer to think of it as “finely calibrated seething” rather than derision. And hey, I didn’t say the poetry picks were dazzlingly fresh, I just said they were there.

    Very few modern authors still write with quills? Don’t tell John Twelve Hawks!

    And by the way, litblogs? We don’t need no stinkin’ litblogs.

  3. Hmmm…InterestingYeah, I
    Hmmm…Interesting

    Yeah, I read this news item this morning and wondered if you guys were going to post about it.

    Honestly, I’m kinda torn about this. On one hand, I’m glad to see a mainstream awards show for writing and books. I think that’s a huge step in the right direction. On the other hand, just looking at the requirements alone counts me out – along with every other hopeful debut writer who doesn’t make it into the hallowed halls of Borders or B&N Great New Writers.

    So I’m left to wonder how this awards show will really benefit the up and coming, cutting edge writers? Obviously it won’t.

    As far as the Quill name, I don’t mind it. Perhaps, they could’ve named the awards The Bookworms, or The Bibliophiles, or something else just as stupid.

    In the end I’m glad to see it because I’m thinking that hopefully one day, lightning will strike and they’ll call my name. (Yeah, right!)

  4. Well, it’s about damn time
    Well, it’s about damn time that somebody tried to make it right, because let’s face it — Gilgamesh was robbed.

  5. You know what I can’t
    You know what I can’t believe

    I can’t believe it’s not butter.

    Wait, no, sorry. Wrong topic.

    I can’t believe that there’s no requirement such as — Writer must have 3 names — because seriously, now. Having 3 names is what makes a writer good. Duh.

  6. I’ve always said that, J.
    I’ve always said that, J.

    Now, let me dust off that interview I did with Gilga back in the day…

  7. Hey now, I adopted a 3 name
    Hey now, I adopted a 3 name moniker in hopes that it would sell more of my book.

    Are you trying to say that makes me a good writer? I resent that!

  8. Would you prefer I said it
    Would you prefer I said it makes you a bad writer? Whatever works, you know… I’m flexible.

  9. the cheese williesThis
    the cheese willies

    This reminds me of a Todd Barry sketch, aimed at the Grammys: you’ll never hear of a nomination going to your local garage band, no matter how rockin’ they may be. Likewise, you’ll never hear of a dynamite street-poet that hasn’t since been picked up and wrung out by the establishment.

    What I find hilarious is that video games got an award show before literature. They know their market well.

  10. Ha! I really set myself up
    Ha! I really set myself up for that one!

    “Dear sir or madam
    will you read my book
    it took me years to write
    will you take a look?”

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