2011 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalists

POSTED ON May 5, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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This week the Indepedent Book Publishers Association posted their list of finalists for the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards, a keenly-anticipated event throughout the indie publishing world.

IBPA is the largest not-for-profit trade association representing independent book publishers. Founded in 1983, it provides cooperative marketing programs, education and advocacy within the publishing industry. IBPA also publishes the best periodical on independent publishing, the aptly named The Independent. IBPA has a membership of more than 3,000 publishers and it continues to grow.

As a trade organization, IBPA is affiliated with over 20 local publishing organizations around the country, including the local one here, Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA).

Award Season and Publishing University

IBPA also runs the annual Publishing University which takes place just before the big publishing trade show, Book Expo America. Publishing University is in its 27th year in 2011, and will present two days of intensive publisher education programs. The end of the University coincides with the beginning of BEA.

That’s when they have their big annual dinner and present the Benamin Franklin Awards. Here’s what their website says about the Awards:

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, which includes fifty-six categories recognizing excellence in both editorial and design, is regarded as one of the highest national honors in small and independent publishing. Winners will be announced at IBPA’s Publishing University, just prior to BookExpo America.

The award is administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association, with the help of more than 160 book publishing professionals coming from the library, bookstore, reviewer, designer, publicity and editorial industry segments. The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards program is unique in that entrants receive direct feedback from decision makers in the industry. The actual judging forms are returned to all participating publishers.

Each category has three finalists, from which one is chosen as the category winner for the year. Winners and finalists enjoy some media attention and promotion at the BEA. Here’s the complete list of finalists.

One unique aspect of the Benjamin Franklin Awards is the mix of entrants. It’s one of the only places where single-book self-publishers compete with large and well-established independent presses. This year’s finalists include entries from Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, the American Bar Association, University of Oklahoma Press, and other independents.

Then there are the small, smaller, micro and self-publishers, all of whom are on an equal footing.

This makes it all the more exciting for me: 2 of the books I worked on last year have been honored as finalists. This is unexpected and surprisingly elating, since I didn’t know both books had even been entered. Here they are, with links to the articles I wrote about each book:

Category: Art/Music/Photography
The Book of Palms by Tom Millea, Tom Millea publisher
A Friend’s Book: Tom Millea and the Book of Palms

photography book design

Click to enlarge

Category: Self-Help
Courage and Croissants by Suzanne Saxe-Roux, Ed.D. and Jean P. Roux, Ph.D., San Rémy Press
Self-Publishing Case Study: Nonfiction Hybrid, Courage & Croissants

successful self publishing

Click to enlarge

As of today, I don’t have any plans to go to the BEA or the awards dinner, but who knows? I’ve looked at some of the other finalists and they are obviously quite worthy books.

However, each of these books is unique in its own way, and exceptional. The Book of Palms is the distillation of one aspect of a photographer’s vision and the mastery of his craft. Added to that is the simply amazing offset printing of the beautiful and transformative color images. Courage & Croissants is an unusual hybrid of a book, combining a charming and exciting true story with a “life guidebook” that shows readers how they themselves can change. It represented an unusual typographic challenge.

Whether either of these books wins in its category, it was an honor to help bring them to life, and I’m grateful for the recognition bestowed on them. I hope it means that more people will be able to experience books that, no matter how they were published, clearly stand out from the crowd.

Both of these books are exceptional. Photo by mauropm. All Amazon links are affiliate links.

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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