Costa Book Awards announces surprise ending after 50-year run

'Huge blow' for literary industry as UK prize axed, says agent

Chair of Judges Reeta Chakrabarti, left, presents Hannah Lowe, winner of the 2021 Costa Book of The Year, with her award on stage. Getty Images
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The Costa Book Awards, a literary prize launched in 1971, has announced its abrupt ending.

No reason was given as to why the long-running awards were being axed, however, as word spread online, authors and publishers reacted to the news.

Scottish novelist Damian Barr 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. What a shame!”

Nelle Andrew, an agent with Rachel Mills Literary, tweeted she was "devastated to hear the news" while calling it a "huge blow for the industry and authors alike".

Award bosses made the announcement online yesterday.

A statement read: “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.”

The Costa Book Awards was founded in 1971 and was known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005.

It recognised writing in five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children’s Book, with four winners receiving £5,000 (Dh22,600), and one receiving £30,000 (Dh135,000) and taking home the flagship prize of Costa Book of the Year.

In 2012, it added a Short Story Award category with £3,500 (Dh15,800) for the first prize winner, who was crowned after the public voted from a judge's shortlist.

In February, the Costa Book Awards held its annual ceremony with author Hannah Lowe winning the 2021 Book of the Year with her work The Kids. It also won the Poetry category.

Other winners of the event included Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (First Novel), Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller (Novel), Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston (Biography), and The Crossing by Manjeet Mann (Children's Book). The Short Story Award went to LE Yates for Sunblock.

Updated: June 11, 2022, 7:54 AM