Clare Boothby explains a major rules change that makes it possible now to nominate books published anywhere.
This year we’re making a change to the BSFA Award rules for Best Novel. To bring it into line with all the other awards, we are dropping the publication location requirement for novels. Previously novels were only eligible if they were published for the first time in the UK or Ireland (or solely in e-book format). From this year, novels are eligible in the year of their first publication, regardless of where they were published.
Because occasionally a book can still be hard to find in the UK when it’s only been published elsewhere, novels may also be eligible in the year of their first UK/Ireland publication, at the awards administrator’s discretion.
We’re making this change for several reasons, but in general terms we’re doing it to keep awards eligibility in line with the books that British fans are reading and talking about. Publishing availability has changed dramatically since the rule was written. Books published only in the US are now much more widely available in the UK, which means some books never get a formal UK publication even though they’re really easy to get hold of in the UK. Publishing models are also changing, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell what “counts” as UK publication.
And of course it isn’t the big names who are affected by this, which means that as a side-effect we’re narrowing our focus unnecessarily and ruling out some really great books, often by British authors or authors living and working in Britain. That’s the main motivation behind this change; we want to keep the novel award as relevant and interesting as the novels we’re all reading.
[Based on the press release.]