Microsoft Announces $100,000 Frankfurt eBook Awards

FRANKFURT, Germany, Oct. 13, 1999 — Today at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Microsoft Corp. announced its founding sponsorship of the Frankfurt eBook Awards, the first awards designed to honor literary achievements in the emerging eBook industry.

Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, said, “We are delighted to be able to recognize and celebrate achievement in writing. The widespread availability of great electronic titles will not only help the young eBook industry, it will also help encourage literacy and the love of reading, learning and knowledge.”

A total of seven awards will be presented annually for works in various categories, including a grand prize of $100,000 for the best work published originally in electronic form each year. Alberto Vitale, chairman Emeritus of Random House and former chairman, president and CEO, will serve as chairman of the organization that will select the winners and present the awards.

The first recipients of the awards will be announced at next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which will be the permanent site for the awards. Submissions for the Frankfurt eBook Awards will be accepted starting in January 2000.

eBooks are handheld electronic reading devices, or PCs and laptops running special reading software, designed to allow the comfortable on-screen reading of books, periodicals or other documents.

An international panel of judges, including educators, members of the media, authors and other publishing-industry professionals, will determine the winning entries in the following categories:

  • $100,000 – Grand Prize, for a work originally published in eBook form

  • $10,000 – Best fiction work originally published in eBook form

  • $10,000 – Best nonfiction work originally published in eBook form

  • $10,000 – Best recent fiction work converted from print to eBook form

  • $10,000 – Best recent nonfiction work converted from print to eBook form

  • $10,000 – Best spoken-word or audio book title delivered in digital form

  • $10,000 – Technology Achievement award for the advancement of electronic publishing

Vitale, former head of Random House and previously Bantam Doubleday Dell, has spent decades leading important new initiatives in publishing. “These awards are exactly the spark the eBook industry needs to ignite a worldwide change in the way we publish, distribute and read books,” Vitale said. “I am excited and pleased to be chairman of this new organization, and I believe it will help usher in and develop the next era of publishing.”

“eBooks are pointing the way to the future of reading and publishing,” said Dick Brass, Microsoft’s vice president for Technology Development, who manages the firm’s efforts in eBooks and related technology. “It’s going to be a future of more titles and lower costs. Instant delivery and on-screen reading that rivals paper. You’ll see 30,000 titles in a single laptop, or 1,000 in the palm of your hand. And because of great advances in computer technology and the Internet, it may be coming sooner than many have expected.”

“It is a pleasure for us to participate in these awards for several reasons: Most importantly, we want to support and encourage literary achievements in this medium,” Brass said. “We also want to help ensure the widespread availability of high-quality eBook titles for the reading public and, more generally, to spur industry growth.”

“We are especially pleased to be working with the Frankfurt Book Fair because it captures the truly international quality of reading, including the new electronic medium and demonstrates that this is a worldwide phenomenon, involving many countries besides the United States,” Brass continued. “The total prize amounts make these one of the largest publishing awards worldwide. We believe it will highlight the importance of electronic books and help attract the very finest talent to electronic publishing.”

Also sponsoring the awards are NuvoMedia Inc., makers of the Rocket eBook, and SoftBook Press Inc., an early pioneer in digital publishing. “We are proud to be a co-sponsor of these eBook awards and look forward to the great variety of literary works that will appear in electronic form as a result,” said James Sachs, chairman and CEO of SoftBook Press, makers of the SoftBook Reader, a new generation of eBook reader. “By recognizing important works, this award will make a major impact on the emergence of eBooks as a vital component of the global publishing industry.”

“The establishment of the Frankfurt eBook Awards is a landmark event in the world of publishing,” said Martin Eberhard, CEO and co-founder of NuvoMedia. “By honoring the works of those cutting-edge authors and publishers who have made their works available for eBook reading devices, the industry is sending a clear signal that this medium is one that authors and publishers around the world must embrace. As a co-sponsor of this groundbreaking new publishing event, we are delighted that we can express in a more formal way the debt of gratitude we owe the authors and publishers who have been pioneers in putting this new industry on the map.”

The prizes will be awarded for works that are formatted according to the Open eBook (OEB) specification for eBook titles, which was announced last month as a proposed international specification for electronic publishing. The Open eBook organization ( ) is a collective effort by more than 30 publishers, printers, academic organizations, eBook pioneers, and other hardware and software firms working under the auspices of the U.S. government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The idea of a standard way to format eBook titles was first proposed a year ago by Microsoft to make it easier for publishers to produce titles in electronic form. The OEB specification defines the format that a book or other publication will take when it is readied for electronic distribution, or converted from a print version to electronic form.

Today’s announcement was made at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest book publishing trade show. (For more information about the Frankfurt Book Fair, visit It closely follows the recent demonstration of Microsoft® Reader with ClearType TM display technology, a new software reading program for PCs and laptops that provides an exceptionally clear and high-quality reading experience with titles formatted to the OEB specification.

The Web site for the Frankfurt eBook Awards can be found at , which will be operational on Nov. 1, 1999. Rules for entry and other information will be available on the site. Information about next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair can be found at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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