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Do Award Nominations/Wins Steer You Towards Your Next Book?

Awards season is in full swing and we all know what that means. It means that our already top-heavy to-be-read stacks are going to get higher.

Just check out the finalists for these recently-announced awards and tell me at least one of them doesn’t catch your eye:

Perhaps I’m assuming too much. Maybe you can resist these bundles of biblio-temptation better than I can. So, let me ask you outright:

Q: Do award nominations/wins steer you towards your next book? If so, which ones look the most appealing to you?

Leave a comment after the thunder-clap

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

22 Comments on Do Award Nominations/Wins Steer You Towards Your Next Book?

  1. Dino Mascolo // March 5, 2011 at 2:08 am //

    Yes, award nominations steer me towards books I will read, if not my next book. As you say, most of us have to-be-read stacks. I want to read:

    The Dervish House, Monsters of Men, Echo, and especially Generosity.

  2. Nope. Sometimes there’s an overlap, when an interesting book pops up on them, but always those I was already interested in before. Most of the time they manage to chose all the books I have zero interest in. Not bad books, just stuff that feels slight, considering my ever growing to-read-pile of of must-read books.

  3. I wouldn’t say awards/nominations drive my primary purchasing – I usually give first buying priority to favourite authors or books that I’ve read intriguing buzz about. But from time to time they have a secondary influence on me, prompting a buy if I’m looking for another book but don’t have anything specific in mind.


  4. Winners and nominess used to drive me towards purchasing. But with more in-depth reviews (Locus), “social networking” and the like, I tend to either buy books by folks I have already read (whether they have ever won an award or not) or buy books liked by reviewers or sites I trust (I’m looking at you De Nardo).

  5. And don’t forget the Australian Shadows Award for Horror:

  6. If a book appears on multiple shortlists, then I’ll put it on my to-be-read list. Although, I do feel inexplicably smug when I’ve already read most of the novels on any given shortlist.

  7. Not in the slightest. However, because they are made so available online, award nominatins for short stories do increase the chance that I’ll read or listen to them.

  8. If a book gets multiple nominations I’m more likely to put it on my to-read list for sure.  What I really like about the awards is that they give me confidence to try new authors that I’ve not heard of before.  Somebody liked them enough to vote for them so maybe I’ll like them too.  I’ve found many a favorite author that way.

  9. Paul NYC // March 5, 2011 at 10:47 am //

    I’ve read some novels based on an award but usually I base it on whether I think I will enjoy that particular story or not. If it’s some genre-twisting, envelope pushing thing that I would put in the category of “high fallutin'”, I probably won’t read it. I read Dhalgren — that’s enough.

  10. Not usually, no. I’ve read enough award-nominated and award-winning books that didn’t do anything for me to have learned that just because it got enough votes to put it on a ballot doesn’t mean it will appeal to me. 

    That isn’t to say I don’t pay attention to the awards, of course, but they don’t really steer my buying. If anything, if a book appears on one of those lists and looks interesting (which is my first criteria, no matter what else), I will dig back and read some reviews of it, maybe page through it in the store. Sometimes I pick it up, sometimes I don’t. I have very limited reading time these days, and so am fairlyparticular about what I choose to fill that ever-shrinking slot with. An award nomination may put it on my radar a bit more, but that’s about it.

    All that said, I think the awards are helpful and do say good things about people’s works. Peer/fan/professional recognition is important, both for writers and the field overall. And it does bring work to prominence that might have been otherwise passed over or missed; might help a reader discover a new favorite author; might encourage some other writer to try something similar/different to what is being recognized in the field. Those are all Good Things, IMO, whether what is on the list/ballot is ultimately to my personal taste or not.

  11. Award nominations may bring stories to my attention but they don’t specifically steer me towards them. Partly it depends on the awards there are some awards whose winners are always stories I just don’t personally care for. It’s not so much a matter of quality as taste.

    Mainly though I just base my book buying habits on reading the synopsis and if the idea appeals to me. 

  12. Harlan Ellison on awards.  Some 4 letter words are involved.


  13. Generally, no more than the book’s cover. 

  14. Yes and no. I check out all the nominees, read their jackets/ check reviews on amazon and if I like the sound of them then I will give them a shot, but thats more because I am interested in the book than because of any nominations or awards.

    When it comes to book browsing I don’t go looking for nominations or awards on the dust jack, I am more interested in the art work, and what they have printed on the back/ inside the front cover… or if I have read other books by the author, the fact a book has won or been nominated for awards doesn’t even register.

    The short lists are just another bit of PR that gets the books on it a once over, its then up to the book / reviews to get me to buy.

  15. Joe Cohen // March 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm //

    Award nominations may call attention to a book that had flown under my radar, but it still has to draw my attention through other means, such as an intriguing story or author. Awards or not, I’m not likely to pick up urban fantasy or alternate history, since they’re not things I’m interested in normally.

  16. Nice one, tam. 🙂 

  17. Nominations draw me to short stories more than anything.  That doesn’t mean I’ll read all those shorts, but if it’s something that interests me, I’m glad to be directed toward it.  Sometimes it alerts me to an author’s work, or has me look for a future novel from them.  Certainly, this is how it transpired with Paolo Bacigalupi for me.

    There is also a possibility where, like yesterday with Peter Watts’ The Things, I’m reminded of his work and now have a renewed interest in his writing. So, yeah, in this case, I’m definitely looking forward to his next book, whenever that should happen.

    With novels, it’s a much more complex process, and I think Andy W. describes that well in his post.

  18. antares // March 6, 2011 at 6:00 am //

    Award nominations increase the visibility of short stories and books.  Most sf comes out, and I am not aware of it.  It is invisible to me. 

    So in the sense that award nominations make works visible to me, yes, they steer me to my next read.

  19. Bob Blough // March 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm //

    Yes, I have read and continue to read everything nominated for the Hugo, Nebula (including the short fiction in these two awards), Arthur C. Clarke, Campbell Memorial Award and BSFA awards and the top five of most of the Locus fiction winners.  I find I read some books that do nothing for me but often I try a new author, because of an award nomination, that becomes a favorite.  All my favorites started out that way from Robert Silverberg and Clifford Simak all the way to N.K. Jemison and Lauren Buekes.  Many of them I have read before nominations come out because of reviewers that I trust, but I always pick up those that I haven’t if they are nominated for those specific awards.  I find I often disagree with various winners but find myself loving a lot of the nominees at the same time.  Sometimes you agree with the various voting groups and sometimes you can’t believe that that was nominated, but it does keep me up-to-date with the genre.

  20. Mark Sheftick // March 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm //

    Nominations do impact my reading list. They form a front gate for the books I will look into reading next. I formed a spreadsheet and sort by author and use it while browsing at the library and book stores. Once I locate a book I’ll read the synopsis or pull one up on my phone to decide if I am interested or not. I found I have little enough time as it is and peer suggestions and cover attention were not cutting it for me. I don’t read everything on the list but everything i have been reading has been from the list, excepting previous and subsequent books in a series which I’ll read in addition to the award-nominated book.


    For me, it comes down to time management, someone else has done some basic legwork in determining a baseline of quality. I am sure I will miss out on some items but I browse enough blogs that I think I can cover a number of additional items that didn’t make the nominee lists. It works for me.

  21. For a few years I did read a few award nominees in hopes to try to predict a winner, but I wasn’t very impressed with the selection.  Nowadays, the awards are pretty meaningless to me.  Meh!

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