Costa Book Awards Scrapped After 50 Years

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After 50 years the Costa Book Awards have been scrapped with no explanation given as to why. The awards are one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular book prizes and celebrated their final winners in February this year. 

The company’s CEO, Jill McDonald, said in her statement: “After 50 years of celebrating some of the most enjoyable books written by hugely talented authors from across the UK and Ireland, Costa Coffee has taken the difficult decision to end the book awards.”

The annual literary awards were launched in 1971 originally known as the Whitbread book awards until Costa took over with the running and financing. The awards recognised English language books not only based on high literary merit but also by judging what is enjoyable to a broader audience. 

The awards recognise five categories, bestowing awards for First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. Four winners receive £5000, and one receives £30,000 as well as the flagship prize of Costa Book of the Year. 

The news has been greeted with dismay by publishers and agents because of the impact it has for authors.

“The Costa prizes have played an enormously important role in our literary ecosystem over the years, and authors and publishers alike will feel their loss keenly,” said Oneworld founder Juliet Mabey. “At Oneworld we have several authors based in the UK who would have been eligible for the upcoming prize, so I’m especially disappointed for them. I suspect that the challenging financial climate in the UK is likely to have played a part in Costa’s decision, but it is a massive blow nonetheless – we’ve never needed the support of a brilliant clutch of prizes like this more.”

Despite the significant loss to the literary community, publishers are still immensely grateful for the impact the awards have had and will no doubt continue to have. Bea Carvalho, head of fiction at Waterstones said: “The Costa awards’ influence in our bookshops does not end here!”

The ending of the awards is no doubt shocking, but the Costa Book Award will leave its mark with its signature stickers on books all over bookshelves.

Words by Georgia McInnes

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