Entertainment

Costa Book Awards to end after 50 years

The event has played a significant role in promoting writers such as Irish author Sally Rooney.

The Costa Book Awards are to end after 50 years, organisers have announced.

Costa Coffee said it had taken the “difficult decision” to end sponsorship of the literary prizes, meaning the 2021 ceremony, which was held in February this year, was the last.

The annual event, which recognised English-language books by writers in Britain and Ireland, was established in 1971 under the name the Whitbread Book Awards.

Recent high-profile winners have included Sally Rooney, Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd.

A statement from the organisers said: “After 50 years of celebrating some of the most enjoyable books written by hugely talented authors from across the UK and Ireland, Costa Coffee has taken the difficult decision to end the Costa Book Awards.

“This means that the 2021 Costa Book Awards held in February 2022 was our 50th and final awards.”

Organisers said they are “incredibly proud to have played a part in supporting some of the best-selling authors of the last 50 years as well as trailblazing diverse and fresh voices, tackling a broad range of themes and ideas, across fiction, poetry and biography.

“And we are honoured to have helped both these new and established talents reach a wider audience of readers.”

The Costa Book Awards have tended towards celebrating works that have literary merit while also being enjoyable for the general public to read.

They have generally been separated into six categories – biography, children’s books, first novel, novel, poetry and short story – with the winner of each genre competing for the top prize, Costa Book of the Year.

February’s ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of the event and each winning author also received a certificate featuring traditional hand-printed elements using a vintage press merged with digital production techniques.

Scottish author Damian Barr described the news as “a shame”.

He tweeted: “Oh no! I was a judge this year – all the category judges and your team did such great work. The Prizes have done so much to get so many books to so many people. Is this decision final? What a shame!”

Science-fiction and romantic-comedy writer Jenny Colgan said: “Oh that is such rotten news about the @CostaBookAwards responsible for some of the best beloved books of the last twenty years.”

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