The decision to create the prize was made after The Bookseller reported on the deficit of YA book prizes for British and Irish authors, a matter highlighted by many of the publishers interviewed.
Nigel Roby, publisher and chief executive of The Bookseller Group, said: “From the very first meetings with publishers and retailers it has been crystal clear that the prize is much needed and that The Bookseller is ideally placed to deliver it. We have one simple desire that underpins everything we do: we want more readers reading more books. The YA Book Prize gives us a wonderful opportunity to put that desire into practice.”
Any YA title written by an author living in the UK or Ireland, published between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014, is eligible for the prize. It will be judged by a group of teenage readers alongside leading industry experts such as World Book Day director Kirsten Grant, Waterstones children’s books buyer Melissa Cox, and Rosianna Halse Rojas. vlogger and assistant to YA author John Green.
The winning author will receive £2,000.
Submissions are now open, and a shortlist of eight to 10 titles will be announced in early December. The shortlist will reflect the wide breadth of YA literature that is available—from dystopia and fantasy to comedy, drama, horror and real-life stories.
The judges will look for books that particularly inspire or engage the core audience of teenage and young adult readers. As author Patrick Ness said in the Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August: “Good YA books, like good adult books, show you the world and all that’s possible in it, and they show you that you are not alone”.
The prize has been welcomed by publishers. Barry Cunningham, m.d. and publisher at Chicken House, said it was important to recognise the YA voices in UK markets. He said: “We have unique and lasting takes on YA culture that influence the world and we need to give those voices more volume and attention like the young people they serve.”