International Update: Costa Book Awards End; 'Essential Reads for Men, by Women'

Costa Coffee is ending the popular Costa Book Awards, which celebrate "the most enjoyable books of the year by writers resident in the U.K. and Ireland," after 50 years. Established in 1971, the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Book Awards between 1971 and 2005) aimed to share and raise the profile of some of the best books published each year. This year's Costa Book of the Year winner was Hannah Lowe for her book of sonnets, The Kids.

"We are incredibly proud to have played a part in supporting some of the best-selling authors of the last 50 years as well as trailblazing diverse and fresh voices, tackling a broad range of themes and ideas, across fiction, poetry and biography," Costa said in a statement. "And we are honored to have helped both these new and established talents reach a wider audience of readers. We would like to thank all those who have been involved and supported the Costa Book Awards over the last 50 years as we close this chapter." There are currently no plans for the prize to be taken over by another sponsor.

Costa Coffee, which has nearly 4,000 coffee shops, the majority in the U.K., was sold by Whitbread to Coca-Cola in 2019.


In May, organizers of the Women's Prize for Fiction, which is awarded annually to a novel written in English and published in the U.K., launched a vote to create a list of 10 essential books for men, written by women. The campaign was inspired by statistical research in Mary Ann Sieghart's book The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously Than Men, and What We Can Do About It, which showed that while women read novels by men and women almost equally, fiction written by women is rarely read by men. Over 10 days, 20,000 votes were cast, narrowing 60 recommended books down to 10. Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale topped the list, which can be seen here.

"Thank you to the hardworking jurors and the readers who voted--I'm honored," Atwood said. "There was no Women's Prize for Fiction at the time I wrote The Handmaid's Tale but it was true then as now that many male readers shied away from books by women (except for murders and fantasies with wizards) and may also have felt excluded from them. It was normal for men to say to me, 'My wife just loves your books,' a double-edged compliment. But The Handmaid's Tale is not about men vs women. It's about a totalitarianism--it is not a paradise for all men, any more than any totalitarianism is. All totalitarianisms control women in specific ways having to do with reproduction. Take note in light of current events in the USA: the state's claim to ownership of women's bodies will also affect men."


Bricks-and-mortar bookshops continue to rebound in Italy, according to a recent report published by the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori). The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that "the growth of online sales in the country seems to have been halted. On the other hand, brick and mortar bookshops continue to regain lost ground: in the first four months of 2022, physical bookshops accounted for 52.4% of all book sales, online sales represented 43%, and large scale distribution sales dropped to 4.6%."


Posted on Facebook by the Dogears Bookshop, Margão, India: "So @peter.d.griffin (@zigzackly on Twitter) is doing this remarkable job of putting all bookshops on a map. Here's the link: If you can help with this effort, and identify a bookshop that's not yet been marked out, do reach out to him on Twitter. He is available on Facebook too. Also, enough with the 'bookshops are dying' bit. You have no excuse not to visit one now." --Robert Gray

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