Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop has been named as the winner of Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year — despite the fact it’s goblin-proofing, with a hyphen.
The title won 38% of the public vote, fighting off its nearest warm fuzzy fellow contender (31%)
and some rather flaccid competition (14%) from . . . .
Horace Bent, The Bookseller‘s diarist and custodian of the prize, said:
“In Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop the public have chosen a hugely important work regarding the best way to protect one’s fowl from the fairy realm’s most bothersome creatures. Everyone knows well the hazards cats, dogs and foxes hold for owners of chickens, not to mention red mite, but the public has recognised the need to illuminate this hitherto under-reported nuisance.”
“It is perhaps no coincidence in these austere times that a book aimed to assist members of the public frugally farming their own produce proved the most popular title on our six-strong shortlist. It also illustrates that the public at large is afflicted by an incredible amount of paranoia regarding the threat foreign invaders pose to their property.”
The book, published by Conari Press, was written by Reginald Bakeley, with a foreword by its US editor Clint Marsh.
“On behalf of Reginald Bakeley and Conari Press, I am honoured to accept this award. The Diagram Prize celebrates the playfulness that is at the heart of much of the world’s best book publishing. Thank you to everyone who voted and allowed Goblinproofing to join the distinguished list of Diagram winners. Reginald and I take this as a clear sign that people have had enough of goblins in their chicken coops. Our campaign against the fairy kingdom continues.”
More than 1,000 people voted for the winner on The Bookseller‘s sister consumer site, welovethisbook.com.
The Diagram Prize (a British award) celebrates its 35th year in 2013, after first being founded as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair (a German event). Bruce Robinson, the founder of the Diagram Group, a publishing solutions firm, established the first prize in 1978, with the crown going to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.
Although the winner receives no prize attention, the nominator of the title, Deep Books’ marketing manager Alan Ritchie, will receive a bottle of wine.
Previous winners of the title have included Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, Highlights in the History of Concrete, Bombproof Your Horse and Cooking with Poo.
Philip Stone, The Bookseller charts editor and Diagram Prize administrator, said:
“People might think the Diagram Prize is just a bit of fun, but it spotlights an undervalued art that can make or break a work of literature. Books such as A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time all owe a sizeable part of their huge successes to their odd monikers.”
“The kind of niche, off-beat publications that often appear on the Diagram Prize shortlist might not make their writers or publishers rich beyond their wildest dreams, but the fact writers still passionately write such works and publishers are still willing to invest in them is a marvellous thing that deserves to be celebrated.”
The full shortlist and their share of the vote:
1) Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (Conari Press) 38%
2) How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior (Murdoch Books) 31%
3) God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman (Square
4) How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (Melville House) 13% (Reviewed by both The NY Times and The New Yorker, probably because he’s so cute! *Really, Gina? Is appropriate?* It’s true. Just look at him.)
5) Was Hitler Ill? by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle (Polity Press)
6) Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne (Foy’s Pet Supplies)