FRANKFURT, Oct. 13, 1999 — The film industry has the Academy Awards, Broadway has its Tony’s, and the traditional world of print journalism has the Pulitzers. In the emerging field of electronic books, however, no forum has honored outstanding achievements both in content and technological advancement. Until today.
In an effort to recognize significant achievements in the emerging eBook industry, Microsoft today announced its founding sponsorship of the Frankfurt eBook Awards. The awards are intended to recognize both literary and technological excellence in electronic publishing and boost the supply of high-quality electronic books available to the public.
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.”
Alberto Vitale, chairman Emeritus of Random House who has spent decades leading new initiatives in publishing, will serve as chairman of the awards committee. He will be joined by an international panel of judges made up of authors, educators, media literary critics and other publishing-industry professionals.
Microsoft announced the awards at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest book publishing trade show, taking place this week in Frankfurt, Germany. NuvoMedia Inc., maker of the Rocket eBook, and SoftBook Press Inc., an early pioneer in digital publishing, will co-sponsor the awards.
Separately, Microsoft and four major European publishers on Thursday announced plans to develop electronic book titles for the European market. In agreements with 00h00.com and Havas in France, Mondadari in Italy and Penguin Books in the UK, Microsoft will help each company make Italian, French and English eBook titles available online or in CD collections.
Encouraging High-Quality eBooks
“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.”
The Frankfurt eBook awards comprise seven awards totaling $160,000. The awards include a $100,000 grand prize for a work originally published in eBook form. They also include six $10,000 prizes: two awards for fiction; two awards for non-fiction; one award for the best audio book title; and one award for most significant advancement in electronic publishing.
“Most importantly, we want to support and encourage literary achievements in this medium,”
said Dick Brass, Microsoft’s vice president for technology development.
“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.”
Today’s announcement of the awards follows several other recent initiatives by Microsoft to turn electronic reading into an everyday habit for book lovers. Last year, the company announced ClearType font technology, which significantly improves the clarity of type on the screen. More recently, Microsoft announced the development of a software platform to make eBooks as easy to read as paperback books. And it helped lead the call to establish an Open eBook standard that will make it possible to read any eBook from any computer device.
Making books available in electronic form will allow the public to receive instant access to a greater number of titles at lower cost, Brass said.
“It’s going to be a future of more titles and lower costs,”
“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.”
To provide more information about the awards, the award co-sponsors are creating a Web site at http://frankfurt-ebook-awards.org . The site will be operational starting Nov. 1. Award submissions will be accepted starting next January, with the first winners announced at next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
“The prize amounts actually make these among the largest publishing awards worldwide,”
“We believe it will highlight the importance of electronic books and help attract the finest talent to electronic publishing.”