NEW YORK – J.K. Rowling (search), Jon Stewart and Stephen King (search) were among the winners Tuesday night of the first annual Quills Awards, people's choice book prizes better known so far to the industry than to the public.
Stewart's "America (The Book)" won for best humor book and for best audio book. Stewart gave a brief monologue at the beginning of the ceremony but, in a comic twist, was unavailable to accept the prizes.
Rowling, author of the multimillion-selling Harry Potter (search) books, won for best children's chapter book for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
"I'm there with you in spirit," Rowling said in a videotaped statement.
King and Stewart O'Nan won in the sports category for "Faithful," their chronicle of the Boston Red Sox's 2004 season, when the baseball team broke a decades-long jinx and won the World Series.
Winners for book of the year, best general fiction and best poetry book were to be announced later Tuesday night.
The Quills include 19 categories, ranging from history and general fiction to sports, cooking and business. In a monthlong voting period that ended Sept. 19, fans picked their favorites by visiting the Quills Web site, www.quillsvote.com, and filling out an e-ballot.
The winners were revealed at a black-tie ceremony hosted by NBC news anchor Brian Williams. A one-hour edited version of the ceremony will air Oct. 22. Fourteen NBC stations so far have committed to televising it.
The awards, organized by NBC-TV and Reed Business Information, which issues Variety and Publishers Weekly, were started this year as a way of getting the public more interested in book prizes.
Rowling, Stewart and other writers were chosen by a panel of booksellers and librarians and were required to meet one of several possible criteria, such as an appearance on the best seller list of Barnes & Noble or a starred review in Publishers Weekly. There are no cash prizes.
But the Quills can hardly claim a broad mandate with readers. According to comScore Networks Inc., which tracks the Internet, the Quills site attracted so little Web traffic during the voting period, fewer than the threshold of 25,000 "unique" visits per week, that it can't even offer an exact number.
Quills founder and chairman Gerry Byrne acknowledged in a recent interview that the new awards were not on "everyone's fingertips," but said he was pleased by the response.