Independent Publisher Book Awards Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Celebrating 20 Years of Excellence

(July 7, 2015 – Traverse City, Michigan) – The first call for entries has gone out for the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards competition, now entering its 20th year of recognizing and promoting the best independently published titles of the year. Known in the industry by its nickname the "IPPYs," the contest is the largest and most competitive awards program for independently published books in the English-speaking world. Awards Director Jim Barnes announced the milestone by launching the 2015-2016 awards cycle with the addition of a special award honoring exceptional independent publishers and their contributions to the industry. The anniversary celebrations will culminate in a ceremony and gala in downtown Chicago next May on the eve of BookExpo America.

Founded in 1996, over 5,500 coveted IPPY medals have been awarded to a diverse group of publishers, illustrators, and authors, including the recently named U.S. poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. "We are deeply grateful for the support of the tens of thousands of authors and publishers who have made the last 20 years possible," says Barnes. "So many changes have wreaked havoc on the publishing and bookselling industries, yet the quality of our IPPY Award entries has steadily increased."

IndependentPublisher.com (formerly Small Press magazine) initially conceived the IPPYs to help recognize the work of independent publishers who remained unsung by major publications and awards programs. "Despite having produced a wealth of well-written, beautifully designed books, small presses were largely overlooked in favor of the big publishing houses," says Barnes. "Existing literary awards were genre specific or only open to members of the sponsoring organization, so we felt the need for a broad-based, unaffiliated contest that would recognize all types of independent publishers." That first contest saw a tremendous response and a wide variety of entrants, including universities, small presses, museums, and self-publishers.

20 years later, the IPPY contest is the largest book awards program in the world. Last year’s contest drew in around 5,800 entries from an entrant pool that has greatly diversified since the program’s founding, as self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and independent publishers have thrived. The original list of 24 subject categories has grown to 80, in addition to a regional division and an ebook contest. Entries come from all 50 United States, all of the Canadian provinces, and about a dozen other English-speaking countries. Though the contest has evolved with time, its mission remains the same, "To reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing."

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, the 2015-2016 awards cycle will draw on IPPY’s rich literary history with a series of feature articles and initiatives on IndependentPublisher.com, as well as a new award honoring publishers who have made exceptional contributions to the independent publishing industry. "We want to showcase how vibrant and dynamic the indie publishing industry is and always has been… the history of the IPPYs reflects the history of this industry, and the hard work and dedication of publishers who submitted 20 years worth of award-winning books," says Barnes. The 20th anniversary festivities will end with a ceremony and gala in Chicago on the eve of BookExpo America and the 2016 medalist results announcement. "From the beginning it’s been about recognizing authors and publishers who are willing to stand for something and dare to be different. Viva la Independents!"