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Dubai-based audiobook publisher Booklava triumphed at the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards which were held on 12 March at Olympia, on the sidelines of the fair.  Booklava took home Audiobook Publisher of the Year, with Michelle Cobb (left, above) of the US Audio Publishers Association collecting the award from Hachette UK Audio Publisher Sarah Shrubb on behalf of Booklava’s Lebanese-Canadian founder and CEO Tarek Bolbol.

Speaking about his victory, Bolbol said: “When we started, there were very few believers in our mission, and very many skeptics. Those voices slowly faded away and being recognized with such a nomination from a prestigious body like the London Book Fair is further testament to this mission.”

Founded in 2017, Booklava beat Macmillan Audio from the US and India’s Karadi Tales to take home the award.  In their citation, the judges said: “This was a very difficult prize to judge as the submissions were all excellent, with all entrants pushing boundaries in a field that is innovative by nature. The judges felt that Booklava deservedly won by creating and driving a new market, using successful audiobook models as their starting point, then twisting and reshaping them to create a new model for their own market. Their belief and hard work have built an industry where none existed before, and we are sure it will continue to thrive and take innovative strides for years to come.”

The London Book Fair International Excellence awards, which are run in partnership with the UK Publishers Association, began in 2014 and have grown in stature with each year.  The United Arab Emirates has performed well in the ‘medals’ table after six years and now lies in joint third place with China, behind the USA and India.  UAE companies have been shortlisted six times and have converted five of those nominations into wins – the highest proportion of any country in the award

Once again it was a glitzy evening, with London Live TV presenter Luke Blackall as emcee, and a large audience of international publishers and agents.  Explaining the idea of the awards, Jacks Thomas, Director of the London Book Fair, said:  “It is a both a privilege and a pleasure to travel with the team promoting our fair around the world, visiting new countries and forging partnerships.  In doing so, we are constantly finding out about schemes, initiatives and innovations taking place right now that deserve to be better known.  We’ve discovered fantastic libraries, visited stunning bookshops large and small, and met dedicated, brave publishers doing great things.  And we come back to the UK and want to shout about it – and what better way to do that than by creating an awards evening that showcases these companies, these ideas and passions, and that shines a spotlight on the people behind them and presents them to the world in one place.

Among the most warmly received awards was The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for Swedish publisher Dorotea Bromberg who founded Brombergs with her father in 1975.

The full list of winners (in bold) of the 2019 London Book International Excellence Awards, and the respective shortlists, are as follows:

      • The Academic and Professional Publisher Award:
      • De Gruyter (Germany)
      • Rutgers University Press (USA)
      • University of Michigan Press (USA)
    • The Audiobook Publisher of the Year
      • Booklava (UAE)
      • Karadi Tales (India)
      • Macmillan Audio (USA)
    • The Bookstore of the Year Award sponsored by Gardners
      • BOA Bookstore (Vietnam)
      • Fang Suo Commune (China)
      • Unity Books (Wellington) Ltd (New Zealand)
    • The Educational Initiatives Award
      • Tata Trusts (India)
      • Virtual Reading Gym (South Africa)
      • West Java Agency of Library and Archive (Indonesia)
    • The Educational Learning Resources Award, supported by The China Publishing & Media Journal
      • Bookful by Inception (USA)
      • Pamegincius (Lithuania)
      • Virtual Reading Gym (South Africa)
    • The International Book Trade Journalist Award (new)
      • Anja Sieg – Buchreport (Germany)
      • Leonardo Neto – PublishNews (Brazil)
      • Porter Anderson – Publishing Perspectives (USA)
    • The Library of the Year Award
      • Espoo City Library (Finland)
      • Lubuto Library Partners (Zambia)
      • Parque Villa-Lobos Library (Brazil)
    • The Literary Translation Initiative Award
      • Latvian Literature (Latvia)
      • The Lontar Foundation (Indonesia)
      • Tulika Publishers (India)
    • The Literary Agent Award
      • Asta Trummel – Ministry of Culture of Estonia (Estonia)
      • Pierre Astier – Astier-Pecher Literary & Film Agency (France)
      • Yasmina Jraissati – RAYA The agency for Arabic literature (France)
    • The Literary Festival Award
      • Book Arsenal Literature Festival (Ukraine)
      • International Literature Festival Utrecht (Netherlands)
      • Makassar International Writers Festival (Indonesia)
    • The Rights Professional Award
      • Kyoko Ishigaki – Sekaibunka Publishing Inc. (Japan)
      • Rose Janssens – Clavis Publishing (Belgium)
      • Yuliani Liputo – PT Mizan Pustaka (Indonesia)

Eligible for entries from Market Focus Indonesia only:

    • The Market Focus Indonesia Adult Trade Award
      • Educa Studio
      • Mizan
      • Bentang Pustaka
    • The Market Focus Indonesia Children’s, Young Adult and Education Award
      • PT. Bestari Buana Murni
      • Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia Publishing House
      • Noura Publishing

Eligible for entries from all countries, including the UK:

    • Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award: Publisher
      • Ediciones Godot (Argentina)
      • EDITORIAL 5 (Brazil)
      • Kogan Page Ltd (UK)
    • Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award: Initiative
      • BC Libraries Cooperative, National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) (Canada)
      • Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) (Canada)
      • Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) (Botswana)
      • eKitabu (Kenya)
      • Secretary general of Fondazione LIA (Italy)

Eligible for entries from the UK only:

    • Inclusivity in Publishing Award, supported by the Publishers Association
      • Emerald Publishing
      • Dialogue Books
      • Jacaranda Books