It should be noted that The Irish Book Awards are different in character from conventional literary awards where winners attract the subjective approval of a jury normally comprising 3-5 judges. To decide fifteen awards in this way would be impractical and inimical to our aim to canvas the widest possible sector of the reading public.
The shortlists are compiled by an industry panel of leading booksellers and librarians. In 2020, the panel comprised:
- Aoife Roantree (Dubray Books)
- Susan Walsh (Dubray Books)
- Caoilfhionn Fay (Dubray Books)
- Bob Johnston (Gutter Bookshop)
- Heidi Murphy (WH Smith)
- Ronan Richmond (Argosy Libraries)
- Jackie Lynam (Dublin City Libraries)
- David O’Callaghan (Easons)
- Catriona Bennett (Argosy)
- Alan Johnston (Easons)
Also consulted were a secondary group of literary critics, reviewers, editors and bloggers including:
- Sue Leonard (Cork Examiner)
- Sarah Gilmartin (Irish Times)
- Madeleine Keane (Sunday Independent)
- Aoife Barry (The Journal.ie)
- Hilary White (Sunday Independent)
- Sian Smyth (Dalkey Book Festival)
- Margaret Bonass Madden (writing.ie reviewer)
- Niall MacMonagle (Reviewer, critic & editor)
- Declan Burke (Author, editor and reviewer)
- Rick O’Shea (Book Club supremo & RTÉ presenter)
The aim is to select the books which, on merit, represent the best of Irish publishing in a given year including titles which have raised the profile of books, both in terms of publicity coverage and performance. These will often include books published late in the year which are widely expected to make a substantial impact. Such books will have been presented to individuals on the panels months before publication date.
The winners are decided by an online web-poll divided into two constituencies, a public vote and a specialist Academy vote*, weighted equally and combined to produce the winners. The purpose of the academy vote is to counter-balance the potential skewing effect of campaigning in the public vote. For example, a title may accumulate a massive public vote but if academy support is slight, success is unlikely. Winning titles must score heavily in both constituencies. In the event of a tie, the academy vote counts as decisive.
*The voting academy comprises around 300 booksellers, librarians, non-shortlisted authors, reviewers, and journalists.
The Irish Language, Short Story and Poetry categories are judged by independent judging panels convened by the sponsor in each case.
The Book of the Year
From the individual category winners, the title of overall An Post Irish Book of the Year will be decided by the same method as the individual category winners ie a combination of public vote and academy vote weighted equally.