By Neeta Sreedharan
As the third edition of Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize culminated at Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 last week, the jury said, “The Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize has come of age!” The prestigious prize, instituted by Apeejay Surrendra Group’s nearly 100-year-old Oxford Bookstore in 2015 to recognize and encourage the extraordinary work of illustrators, designers and publishers across India, is held in high esteem by the literary fraternity. As one of the key team members who run this prestigious prize, I can say that this prize is a recognition of Oxford Bookstore’s commitment to its customers, of being much more than a bookstore.
For every successful award, first and foremost, it’s important to have a passionate and committed jury and an equally dedicated team to execute the activity. Thankfully for Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize, we have a stable well positioned Jury panel, since year one.
Renowned architectural restorer and hotelier, quick witted Mr Aman Nath, the unconventional and very supportive art curator – Ms Alka Pande, acclaimed photographer Ms Dayanita Singh and writer & festival director Ms Namita Gokhale besides our guiding force and perfectionist – Apeejay Surrendra Group Director Ms Priti Paul, have been on our jury since the inception of the prize.
Every year, the final winner is chosen following an intensive selection procedure. Detailed discussions, day long meetings and debating with physical copies of every nominated book at Neemrana Hotels is a part of our yearly selection protocol.
Jury with the winner (fourth from left) of Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize 2018
With the prize evolving every year and growing bigger and better with every edition, our responsibility as organizers grows tremendously. Keeping the interest with the audience and entertaining them, remain our biggest challenges as we look to showcase the brilliant book covers nominated.
It is very hard to be cutting-edge against a backdrop of the majestic literary gathering at Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival or even while presenting the award at the world famous Jaipur Literature Festival. And it’s for this very reason that for each of its collateral events in Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur, we curate installations and elements around the Book Covers to keep the enthusiasm and the mystery buzzing along.
As a team, we have always been brave and experimental with the format. This year as we hosted a reception at our flagship Delhi store announcing the Third Edition’s Longlist we presented a 4 x 3 Feet physical book of the longlisted Book Covers followed by a runway walk by beautiful Bengali women in sarees holding huge posters of the shortlisted covers at the Kolkata chapter and later a musical by an Assamese band of musicians at the Jaipur Winner announcement.
At the beginning and at the end of every marque event, great communication is key and while social media plays a pivotal role in keeping our outreach strong and impactful, we as a team also ensure real time updates on all channels, regular connect with all our publishers and constant communication with the jury, so that we tick the right boxes of our key objectives.
Beside all the drama and effect, a well-crafted cocktail evening with a good networking experience with our guests and attention to the brilliant Book Covers helps in meeting the simple aim of Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize.
Announcement of winner of Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize 2017
Now with India Habitat Center inviting us to hold a talk and exhibition about Book Covers for their Bonjour India collaboration event “The Book Of Arts”, I can say with great pride that it’s the feeling of triumph after every edition of Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize that resonates more with invites like these from reputed institutions, apart from the appreciation for our nominees received on social media that makes Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize incredible and much sought after….the way it was envisioned to be!
Neeta Sreedharan is Senior Manager – Corporate Communications