With the annual Goodreads awards being upon us, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the matter of awards in general – and how they (don’t) affect my choice of next book.
I’ll say the big part right away: it’s all my personal opinion, not an attempt to undermine awards of any kind.
Now, on the topic itself: If I take it in a very general style, there are two kinds of awards: Critics’ awards and public awards, so to say.
Critics vs. populace
My father says that critics search for completely things in entertainment than the audience. Someone who goes to the cinema for pure entertainment and does not care for any deeper meaning is on the very opposite end of the spectrum than critics searching for these deeper meanings than any other aspect.
As result, awards given by critics will are useful for those sharing the values these critics search for. That, by itself, is not an issue. Where I see one is that if I wanted to find my next read(s) based on an award, I’d need to first research the awards given in a specific genre and then look for some that are given based on the same aspects I want to see in the books I read. Instead of this research, I feel that I’ll better (and faster) find my next read based on exploring the reviews written by fellow readers – or asking them for a recommendation if I find them sharing my taste.
Public vote: fandom over quality?
On the other side are awards like those Goodreads hold: while there are some pre-nominated books, anyone can suggest a book, given it falls into the publication date range for each year. It looks well on the first sight, except it’s not. Why?
Well, people will vote for what they like. As result, it turns into a measure of fandom over a measure of quality. That’s not to say that popular means bad. What I mean to say is that books that are good but unheard of – especially the “hidden gems” among self-published books – will stay unheard of despite being good due to lack of readership, not the lack of quality. Also, the winner is likely to be already a well-known title and thus fails to lead me to discovering something.
So, in the end, I take the internet version of “word of mouth” – reviews and recommendations – at a higher value than awards of any kind. It’s said that the 10% on both ends – liking and hating something very much – are those who’ll be most vocal voicing their opinions. Hence, reading reviews of those is a good way to see what are the good and the bad points of a book – and usually easier to find than researching the rules of a competition.
Anyway, all of that’s how I see it. Do you see it the same way, or completely different? Do you have a story about how you found a good book through the fact it won an award or a competition? Feel free to share it in the comments.
See you next time!