Caffè Nero announces launch of a new book awards

A year after the Costa book awards ended, high-street coffee rival Caffè Nero is launching a set of awards celebrating children’s books, debut fiction, fiction and nonfiction. Unlike the Costa Awards, there will be no poetry prize at the inaugural edition of Caffè Nero Awards.

All books by writers based in the UK and Ireland will be eligible for the awards, which are in partnership with the Booksellers Association, Brunel University London and Right to Dream, the latter a charity whose aim is “expanding people’s understanding of excellence through football”.

The Nero Book Awards will highlight outstanding books from across multiple genres and celebrate the best writing and books from across the UK and Ireland.

The awards prize fund totals £50,000, with the four category award winners receiving £5,000 each and the winner of the book of the year receiving an additional £30,000.

Like the Costa prizes, the not-for-profit Nero book awards will choose winners in various categories. The inaugural awards will open for entries on June 19.

Gerry Ford, founder and chief executive of Caffe Nero, said the new awards were “a natural fit” for the company. “Caffe Nero was founded in 1997 on the principle of being a warm and welcoming neighbourhood gathering spot, a place to bring people together,” he said.

“Our venues were intended as and have come to be gathering spots where people come to talk, read and discuss issues of the day. Most of our stores are filled with books.”

Caffe Nero has also supported the arts in a variety of ways in past decades, including partnerships with Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the V&A and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Addressing the fact there was no poetry category, a spokesperson for the awards said: “These are a brand-new set of awards, developed in partnership with Caffè Nero and the Booksellers Association. The chosen categories reflect the main genres readers are most likely to find/see when they visit a bookshop or online retailer. As the awards become established over time, it’s possible additional categories could be added in the future.”

The awards will be judged by industry professionals, including booksellers, authors, media commentators and influencers. Each award will have a shortlist of four titles. The shortlists for the first year of the awards will be announced in November, with the category winners revealed in January and the overall winner named in February.

The Costa book awards were scrapped suddenly in 2022, in what the company’s CEO Jill McDonald described as a “difficult decision”. The awards began in 1971, and were known as the Whitbread book awards until 2005, when Costa took over the running and financing.

The last Costa book of the year winner, in 2022, was former teacher Hannah Lowe, for her book of sonnets, The Kids, drawing on her experiences teaching in an inner-city sixth form and which won the poetry prize. The overall winner will be revealed in February at an awards ceremony.

Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for the world of books. “The Nero Book Awards do that rare thing of celebrating books across multiple genres, with an emphasis on commercial books with wide appeal. “With its brand values centred around quality, craft and community, plus its strong existing connection to the arts, Caffe Nero is a perfect partner with whom to establish these brand-new awards.”

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