5 September 2008
Greek Postmen Win Oddest Book Title Prize
The people have spoken and the oddest book title of the past 30 years has been selected: Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers. The impenetrable-sounding book, a comprehensive record of Greece's postal routes, is published by the Greek Hellenic Philatelic Society of Great Britain, which "exists to encourage the collection of Greek stamps and to promote their study".
The Diagram Prize is The Bookseller magazine's award for oddly named publications, and this 72-page book has won the Diagram of Diagrams, for the weirdest title in the past three decades. It nipped in ahead of People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It, and How to Avoid Huge Ships.
"I think the voters wanted a feelgood story about rural postmen because of all the news of post offices closing around the country," said The Bookseller's charts editor Philip Stone. He has so far been unsuccessful in his attempts to contact the book's author Derek Willan to let him know about his win. "There's no prize but the boost in sales is surely prize enough," Stone said. "When we announced our last shortlist, sales increased by 1,000%, from one copy sold in the two weeks previously to ten afterwards."
The Diagram prize was launched in 1978 as a way to relieve boredom at a particularly tedious Frankfurt book fair. The Diagram of Diagrams saw the public voting for their favourite odd book title from 30 years of former winners. More than 1,000 votes were received, with Greek Rural Postmen taking 13% of the public vote.
"The posties pulled off a real shock here," said the prize's custodian Horace Bent. "The pre-tournament favourite was the prize's first ever recipient - Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. The 1978 winner picked up the 15-year anniversary gong in 1993. But right from the off, it was Gary Leon Hill's People Who Don't Know They're Dead that set the pace. It topped the polls for more than three weeks until, at the very last moment, the Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers pipped the People Who Don't Know They're Dead at the post."
Why The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution, American Bottom Archaeology, and China National Publications' title Population and Other Problems did not make the top three was not explained.
The Bookseller is now receiving submissions for the 2009 Diagram prize. Stone said that Strip and Knit with Style, out next month, is already a strong contender.
Posted by Corfu Blogger at 15:58