BookBrowse General Information Pages

About Our Awards & Top 20 Books

About the Awards
BookBrowse's annual Best of the Year awards are an excellent barometer of great reading. The awards are particularly noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, because voting is only open to BookBrowse subscribers - so, unlike other popular awards, there is no vote stuffing by rabid fan bases. Secondly, instead of just voting for a book (which favors the most widely read books) subscribers rate each book they've read that is on the shortlist, and the winners are the books with the highest overall rating. Each year we pick the Top 20 Books; and from these we pick our four Award Winners, which are the highest rated books in each of our four awards categories: Best Fiction, Best Nonfiction, Best Young Adult Book and Best Debut.

If you'd like to know more, please read on.


How are the winners determined?
Each of the short-listed books is rated on a 5-point scale. The winners are the books with the highest ratio of points to votes in the particular category, so long as the particular title receives the minimum number of votes to qualify.

For example, Book A receives:
  • 180 'Very Good' votes (very good = 2 points => 180 x 2 = 360)
  • 160 'Good' votes (good = 1 point => 160 x 1 = 160)
  • 50 'Average' votes (average votes carry zero points but do count towards the minimum number of votes needed to be eligible)
  • 21 'Poor' (poor = -1 point => 21 x -1 = -42)
  • 2 'Awful' (awful = -2 points => 2 x -2 = -4)
  • Total Votes = 573. Total Points = 634. Ratio = 1.15

Why not just count votes like everyone else?
BookBrowse's awards are different because subscribers rate the books they have read, instead of simply casting a vote.

The reason for the rating system is to achieve a balance between popularity and quality; so that a book does not win simply because it has been read by more people.

When a committee of judges votes on an award, all the judges will have read all the shortlisted books, so that they can make an informed decision about which deserves to win. However, most people voting in 'popular' book awards have not read all the books on the list, so they are only in a position to cast a vote for the books they have read (and might be tempted to do so even if they've only read one book on the list and even if they did not consider it particularly exceptional).

Obviously, this sort of voting favors the most widely read books, which are not necessarily the 'best' books. For example one of the top 3 most widely read books shortlisted for the 2005 Awards actually scored at the bottom of the table when the ratings were factored in!


How many votes are cast?
Well over 5000 votes have been cast in recent years.


Don't the books at the top of the list get an advantage because people might not take so much care with their voting further down the list?
No, because the display order is randomized each time the list is viewed.


Where do I go to vote?
Only BookBrowse subscribers are eligible to vote. A voting link is sent directly to subscribers by email. If you wish to be part of the voting process in the future, make sure that you're on our mailing list either as a subscriber to our free newsletter, as a member, or as a patron of a subscribing library.


Why is voting limited to subscribers only?
Because it significantly limits the opportunities for "vote stuffing". For example, where one person enters multiple times with different email addresses, or groups of people enter for the sole purpose of voting for one particular book.

Most consumer awards allow, even actively encourage, those connected with the short listed products/books to contact others to get them to take part in the voting, because this drives up interest in the awards and the business that is sponsoring the awards. However, for obvious reasons, this behavior significantly skews the results.

The BookBrowse Awards voting process is designed to award books based on their inherent quality, not on the size of someone's mailing list!


What about new people subscribing in order to vote?
The request to vote is only sent to the existing subscriber base, it is not announced on the website at all. For votes to be eligible, the email address entered on the voting form has to match one on our mailing list at the time the voting was announced.


How are the books selected for the short list?
More than 100,000 new books are published each year in the USA alone. The long list for the awards consists of all books featured on BookBrowse during the year (with a small amount of overlap from one year to the next to account for books published late in the year, which are included in the following year's list if there has been insufficient time for a critical mass of people to have read them.)

The initial shortlist that subscribers vote on is chosen by our professional reviewers who each recommend the books that they feel are most memorable from the year.


Can subscribers nominate books not on the short list?
There is a field on the voting form allowing people to nominate additional titles. If the book published in the year of voting and is one that we have featured on BookBrowse, and sufficient people recommend it in the first 2-3 hours of voting, we will add it to the list so that others may rate it. Adding a title to the list within this short time window does not put the book at a disadvantage because the key factor in our awards is the average overall rating each book receives, so the total number of votes is relatively unimportant (so long as the book achieves the minimum number of votes to be eligible.)


Do subscribers have to rate every book on the list?
No, they only rate the books they have read.


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