It was an elegant evening of wine, mini-cupcakes and jazz music at the 2012 Toronto Book Awards. But that didn’t stop the tears from flowing when winning author Andrew Borkowski relived his victory.
“I’m kind of stunned,” Borkowski said. “I’ve never won anything. I don’t win lotteries; I don’t even buy tickets because I don’t win.”
But win he did.
Despite writing for over 20 years as a journalist and a short story author, Copernicus Avenue is his first novel and consequently first prize.
But even with this accolade, Borkowski is not sure how this will affect the sales of his novel.
“I’m sure my publisher will be making up a sticker and putting it on the book and hope it sells a few more copies,” he said.
For Borkowski, awards are not meant for the boost of sales, but to provide a focus for authors and novels.
But with hundreds of thousands of books competing for a reader’s attention, does an award sticker make it stand out from the masses?
Not really, according to Denise Schon, who has been working in the publishing industry since 1979.
She is currently the program coordinator for Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing program and says that awards are more of a validation for authors.
“When someone says ‘this is good, you’ve contributed something to the community, you’re writing is good, it’s very validating,” Schon said.
“[But most awards] die quiet, they have no impact at all on people’s conscious in terms of sales.”
While she did mention that big prizes like the Giller Award and CBC’s Canada Reads do garner extra sales for the winners it does little to motivate the reader into spending extra time and money.
“If you’re not interested, you’re not interested. I think it makes you feel good about your purchase, not decide your purchase,” Schon said.
After all, the book industry is a crowded market.