A Glimpse at the 2017 IPNE Book Awards Judges Panel

For the 2017 IPNE Book Awards, we have gathered a dedicated panel of 32 judges to review book awards submissions.  Here is a glimpse at the judging panel composition and a spotlight on a few of the judges on the panel who have provided us a profile for publication. We'll add more as we receive them.

Who are the Book Awards judges? Are they all librarians?

Historically, we have principally invited librarians to be judges on the IPNE Book Awards panel. They not only know books but are in the business of recommending books to readers in their communities. And they have that aura of impartiality. We also generally invite librarians from public libraries in New England, on the belief that they would be more attuned to our community of New England authors and publishers.

This year, we retained a focus on regional librarian judges - 20 of the 32 judges are from regional libraries, in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. But we also decided to expand the mix of judges to include several publishers, editors, teachers, book designers and established authors to provide a more diverse range of perspectives for the judging panel.

Where are the judges from?

In the panel, 16 judges are from Massachusetts, 6 from Maine, 4 from New Hampshire, 3 from Rhode Island and 3 from Vermont. We tried to reach out to Connecticut judges but may need to work harder next year.

What sort of books are the judges most interested in reading?

We try to assign books to judges for review based in part on reading preference. Some books are easier to place than others. The top preference category is probably genre fiction - especially historical and romance categories. Perhaps because of the librarian make-up, we also have a number of requests for literary fiction. There have also been a number of requests for graphic novels, although we did not receive graphic novel submissions this year.

There are fewer requests for nonfiction. But for nonfiction, the preference for judges has been for narrative nonfiction (e.g., biographies, journals and memoirs). 

Sometimes, there are requests for specific themes. There was one for New England maritime books. Another for LGBTQ+ themes.

What do the judges gain from the Book Awards?

Judges are not compensated by IPNE for judging the book awards. They (like the IPNE team organizing the book awards) do this on a volunteer basis. The judges may participate because (1) they think it would be fun (a bit of a reading potluck); (2) they love reading and books; and (3) they understand the role they play in helping identify fresh and important voices in the independent press. The judges do keep the books they review.

Meet the 2016 IPNE Book Awards Winners

Winners were announced at the 2016 Annual Independent Publishers Conference held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on October 21 - 22, 2016.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the volunteers, attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors for making this a productive and memorable #IPNE16!

(Click here to find out all the Book Award winners!)

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