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The IPG Independent Publishing Awards: winners revealed

Posted at 8:00AM Friday 09 Mar 2012

Centuries-old trade publisher takes flagship award — while children's start-up Nosy Crow also scores a hat-trick of prizes 

The Independent Publishers Guild has revealed the winners of the 2012 IPG Independent Publishing Awards, run in association with The Bookseller and The London Book Fair. The 14 winners of the sixth annual awards are:  

IPG Independent Publisher of the Year: Constable & Robinson 

The Bookseller Trade Publisher of the Year: Constable & Robinson 

IPG Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year: SAGE 

IPG Children's Publisher of the Year: Nosy Crow 

IPG Education Publisher of the Year: Jolly Learning 

IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year: Osprey Group

IPG Newcomer Award: Nosy Crow 

The London Book Fair International Achievement Award: Woodhead Publishing 

Nielsen Innovation of the Year: Nosy Crow 

IPG Diversity Award: Barefoot Books 

Ingram Digital Publishing Award: Constable & Robinson 

The Frankfurt Book Fair Digital Marketing Award: Top That! Publishing 

IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year: Andrew Furlow, Icon Books 

GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award: Adrian Driscoll 

Leading the list of IPG Independent Publishing Awards winners is Constable & Robinson, which dates the history of its imprints back to 1795 but which impressed the panel of judges with a thoroughly modern and innovative approach to publishing. It scoops the flagship award of IPG Independent Publisher of the Year, while also taking home The Bookseller Trade Publisher of the Year and Ingram Digital Publishing Award categories. Constable & Robinson joins Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Templar Publishing, Alastair Sawday Publishing, Earthscan and Continuum as the sixth name on the roll call of winners of the IPG's prestigious overall award.  

Also picking up a hat-trick of IPG Independent Publishing Awards is a much newer publisher: Nosy Crow. Launched just two years ago by former Macmillan Children's Books, Scholastic and Headline boss Kate Wilson, Nosy Crow has quickly established itself as one of the leading players in both children's books and apps. It secured the title of IPG Children's Publisher of the Year as well as the IPG Newcomer Award and the Nielsen Innovation of the Year category. 

Constable & Robinson won the overall Independent Publisher of the Year prize from a shortlist made up of the five winners of the Publisher of the Year categories. As well as Nosy Crow, this included SAGE, named the IPG Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year; Jolly Learning, voted IPG Education Publisher of the Year; and Osprey Group, chosen as IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year.

The roster of company winners is completed by Woodhead Publishing, which picked up The London Book Fair International Achievement Award; Barefoot Books, which received the IPG Diversity Award; and Top That! Publishing, which took The Frankfurt Book Fair Digital Marketing Award. Two individuals also received prizes: Andrew Furlow of Icon Books, who becomes the first ever winner of the IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year; and consultant Adrian Driscoll, who received the GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award. 

All 14 winners received their awards at a Gala Dinner at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire on Thursday 8 March, staged as part of the IPG's 50th Annual Conference. Winners were selected by panels of experts sharing decades of experience across various sectors of publishing and related industries.  

IPG executive director Bridge Shine says: "We congratulate all the winners of this year's IPG Independent Publishing Awards, who join a very illustrious group of recipients over the last six years. Our winners are a fine mix of new and old and large and small, and show the incredibly broad range of independent publishing in the UK today. What they all have in common is a can-do attitude, an ambition to take advantage of digital opportunities and a great spirit of independence." 

The IPG is very grateful to its partners on the Independent Publishing Awards, The Bookseller and The London Book Fair, and to its sponsors, CMP Digital Print Solutions, The Frankfurt Book Fair, Grantham Book Services, Ingram and Nielsen. It also thanks its judges: Ann Betts, Nielsen; Colin Bottle, IT and business consultant; Paul Brindley, Music Ally; Elise Dillsworth; Andy Hayward, consultant; Philip Jones, The Bookseller; Ruth Jones, Ingram; Emma Lowe, The London Book Fair; Peter McKay, the Publishing Training Centre; Edward Milford, IPG; Cathy Rentzenbrink, Waterstones; Peter Saxton, Waterstones; and Liz Thomson, BookBrunch.

Judges' comments about each of the IPG Independent Publishing Award winners follow, together with details of the companies shortlisted in each category.  


Constable & Robinson scooped this award after a year in which it raised its sales and profitability while many larger publishers struggled amid difficult conditions and seismic digital change. Judges admired both its strongly commercial print publishing and its innovative digital programme, including very successful ad-driven websites as well as ebooks, and said it had a palpable sense of ambition and entrepreneurship. "This has always been a robust and well run publisher, but it has never sat back on its laurels," said the judges. "It has pulled together every weapon in its armoury and lifted itself up to a whole new level as one of the very best publishers around." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Independent Publisher of the Year Award were the winners of the four other Publisher of the Year categories: Jolly Learning, Nosy Crow, Osprey Group and SAGE. 


Constable & Robinson won this category after reaching the shortlist in the previous two years. It impressed the judges after increasing its sales and profits via sharpened publishing and digital strategies. Its string of bestsellers in 2011 were enhanced by imaginative ebook campaigns, and judges liked the way it had thrived in the tough general trade sector without a niche. "Constable & Robinson is a publisher on a roll—a rising star in a difficult market," said the judges. 

Also shortlisted for The Bookseller Trade Publisher of the Year Award were Anova Books, Faber & Faber and Yale University Press.  


SAGE won this category with a thoroughly professional publishing programme, wide-ranging digital activity, high production standards and sharp global strategies. Judges also noted its ability to attract and retain outstanding staff and authors, and said it had retained a strong sense of independence while growing into a big player. "SAGE knows its market and does what it does phenomenally well. It consistently attracts top talent and is very dynamic internationally." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year Award were Bloomsbury Professional, Hart Publishing and Liverpool University Press. 


Nosy Crow won this section just two years after launching into children's publishing. It secured the judges' voted for its combination of books and apps that bring reading alive for children and parents. Judges especially liked its high production values, close customer engagement and efforts to market its brand as well as its products. "What Nosy Crow has achieved in just two years is phenomenal. Its marketing has been faultless and its publishing is full of energy." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Children's Publisher of the Year Award was Barrington Stoke.  


Jolly Learning, which has been previously shortlisted in this category, triumphed this year after establishing itself in dozens of markets around the world without ever losing its focus on the UK. Judges liked its tight cost control and innovations including online training for teachers, and said it was a publisher with a clear vision and ambition. "I am in awe of what Jolly Learning does," said one judge. "Its global reach is phenomenal, and it is a consummate professional in its field." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Education Publisher of the Year Award was Crown House Publishing.  


Osprey Group won this closely contested category after a year of outstanding sales and critical acclaim including the Arthur C Clarke award. Judges said it had total command of its various niches while conveying coherent group strategies and constantly innovating. "This is a company that lays its foundations and really does its homework on its books. It mines the possibilities of the new world of publishing while continuing to do the traditional things very well." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year Award were Accent Press, Quiller Publishing and SPCK Publishing.  


Nosy Crow added this award to the title of IPG Children's Publisher of the Year by demonstrating impressive commercial success after just two years. Judges liked its twin focus on books and apps and its sense of ambition, while noting that it was already a popular company for authors, retailers and other partners to work with. "Nosy Crow has produced a string of beautiful books and apps in a very short space of time. It has picked up impressive sales from a standing start." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Newcomer of the Year Award were And Other Stories and How 2 Become.  


Woodhead Publishing scooped this award for international achievements including sharp export sales growth, especially in China and Germany, and the opening of a new sales and marketing office in the US. Judges also noted international collaboration on its online publishing projects and saw clear evidence of its careful research and thoughtful strategies in multiple territories. "Woodhead is very active and innovative in whatever countries it targets." 

Also shortlisted for The London Book Fair International Achievement Award was Nosy Crow.  


Nosy Crow won for its creative and interactive apps including 'The Three Little Pigs', 'Cinderella' and 'Bizzy Bear on the Farm'. Judges were impressed by its adoption of digital technology right from its launch, by its in-house development of apps, and by strong marketing, PR and sales. "Nosy Crow has adapted to change and embraced it with some terrific work. It is easy to produce apps for the sake of it, but Nosy Crow has done something very innovative and special." 

There was no shortlist for the Nielsen Innovation of the Year Award.  


Barefoot Books won for its promotion of cultural and ecological diversity in children's books. Judges admired its long-term commitment to diversity and its richly varied range of authors and age-appropriate subject matter. Barefoot also impressed with its work with charities and reading initiatives, and with a recent open weekend at its studio to showcase cultural diversity. "Barefoot produced an excellent submission and is a thoroughly deserving winner," said the judges. 

There was no shortlist for the IPG Diversity Award.  


Constable & Robinson completed a hat-trick of awards with this category, with judges impressed by evidence of fast-growing sales for its digital content. As well as admiring its ebooks, they also liked the way it had grown ad revenues from online publishing activity like the Honest John website and said it had a strong sense of digital purpose. "Constable & Robinson has explored a wide diversity of digital activity and business models, adding up to something very special."

Also shortlisted for the Ingram Digital Publishing Award were Bloomsbury Professional, Faber & Faber and Osprey Group.  


Top That! Publishing won this competitive category for a major digital campaign around its Froobles brand. Judges especially admired its app, ebook partnership with Kobo and courting of influential 'Yummy Mummy' bloggers, and said the company had made itself alive to the world of digital possibilities. "Top That! plugged into just the right networks to get the word out about its books and covered the digital platforms comprehensively." 

Also shortlisted for The Frankfurt Book Fair Digital Marketing Award were Constable & Robinson and Nosy Crow.  


Andrew Furlow, sales and marketing director at Icon Books, is the inaugural winner of this award, designed to encourage emerging talent. He was singled out by judges for achievements including the phenomenal success of The Etymologicon, one of the surprise hits of 2011. "Andrew is imaginative and tenacious and great at what he does," said the judges. "He was instrumental in a game-changing book without neglecting the rest of Icon's publishing." 

Also shortlisted for the IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award was Sarah Shin, senior publicist at Verso Books.  


Adrian Driscoll, consultant and founder of app developer Aimer Media, was nominated for the help he has given many independents with their digital strategies. They said he was consistently incisive and insightful in his support. "Adrian always goes far beyond the call of the project in offering advice and help to his clients," said one nominating IPG member. He is a great supporter of independent publishing and I can't recommend him highly enough." 

Also shortlisted for the GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award was David Segrue.


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