20.4.12

Does an award matter?

There's been a lot of fuss over the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction not being awarded this year.

Last week, the Teen Top Ten nomination list was announced and, well, some of the books baffled me.  To be honest, some of the books listed baffled my favorite readers, too.  No, I'm not going to name titles, because that's not the point of this post.

Today, I got my daily Shelf Awareness e-mail, which talked about the Pulitzer issue.  As with any award, some of the books are now classics and some... forgotten except by those who are completists or who really responded to those particular books.
Which begs the question: Is long-lasting prominence the result of the prize, or of the brilliance of the book? The prize spurs sales, which engenders word of mouth, which leads to more sales. Of course, popularity would soon wane if the book wasn't worthy. But bottom line: a Pulitzer would have been more than nice.
I think of other books, ones not nominated for an award, due to whatever conversations the committee had, or ineligibility, or lack of an appropriate award, and how many of those have had "long-lasting prominence" (Diary of A Young Girl, anyone?) .  Looking at some of the award winning books purchased for the school libraries I've worked in, and how frequently those books have been checked out in later years, it makes me wonder whether its worth it.

My new thinking is that if a book - any book, no matter how lauded - doesn't circulate within 3-5 years, it gets weeded.  And books in The Collection?  Only those I could see myself re-reading in years to come.

No comments: