Frankfurt Fair Is First with E-Book Award

Article excerpt

THE electronic book will come of age this week when the Frankfurt Book Fair, the publishing industry's largest and most established event, presents its inaugural "e-book" awards.

The city's opera house will play the somewhat unlikely host to the prize-giving on Friday aimed at recognising achievements in the "e-book" industry - seen by many as a threat to traditional bookselling.

Sponsored by Microsoft, the International eBook Award Foundation will announce winners for four different categories, with the grand prize of $100,000 to be awarded for the most original book, either fiction or non-fiction, published in electronic format.

Although the categories include a prize for the best e-book converted from print - Zadie Smith's White Teeth is one finalist - those involved with the awards say their principal aim is to honour authors who have published in electronic format.

"The purpose of the award," says Roxanna Frost, president and chief executive of the Foundation, "is to honour authors of e-books as a way to help jump-start the industry and get the publishers involved."

Although new media has been a part of the Frankfurt Book Fair for a number of years, it is recent endorsements from traditional print writers, including the horror writer Stephen King, that have helped electronic publishing gain a higher profile.

Earlier this year King became the first household name to publish online. His novel Riding The Bullet appeared on the internet before it came out in print. Last month Frederick Forsyth followed suit when he signed a deal with Online Originals to publish five short stories on the Net.

Despite the considerable momentum behind electronic publishing, several hurdles remain. Distributing books on the internet is a lot more complicated than it appears and the publishing industry has yet to agree on formats for electronic storage and delivery. …