NEW YORK – Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and former Vice President Al Gore were among the nominees announced Tuesday for the second annual Quills Awards — people's choice prizes trying to catch on with the public.
Caroline Kennedy will receive a Platinum Quill Award honoring her "commitment to providing support for education and literacy in New York." The Quills will also acknowledge the 50th anniversary of "Profiles in Courage," for which her father, then Sen.-John F. Kennedy, received the Pulitzer Prize.
A Corporate Literacy Award will be presented to Target for its "numerous and pro-active literacy and book programs." The awards will be handed out at an Oct. 10 ceremony, hosted by NBC anchor Lester Holt, at the American Museum of Natural History. Admission will range from $1,000 for a single ticket to $75,000 for a "Platinum Sponsorship."
Starting Tuesday and through Sept. 30, voters can make their picks online at www.quillsvote.com and at www.quills.msnbc.com.
King was nominated in the science fiction/fantasy/horror category for his novel, "The Cell." Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," her biography of Abraham Lincoln, was cited in history/current events/politics, as was Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," the companion to the documentary of the same name about global warming.
The Quills, billed as a combination of "populist sensibility" and "Hollywood-style glitz," were started last year by NBC Universal Television Stations and Reed Business Information, which issues Variety and Publishers Weekly. Ninety-five nominees in 19 categories, from general fiction to cooking, were chosen by thousands of booksellers and librarians and were required to meet one of several possible criteria, such as an appearance on the best seller list of Borders Group, Inc., or a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
There are no cash prizes.
So far the Quills have inspired more discussion within the industry than among the public.
Publishers have complained that readers showed little interest in last year's awards and that the Quills had no discernible affect on sales.
Quills founder and chairman Gerry Byrne said Tuesday that publishers have strongly supported the awards and that the Quills are about more than helping the bottom line.
"If you ask, `Were the Quills created to sell books?' The answer would be no," Byrne said. "The importance is to get people reading and interested in the written word. The more the American public recognizes the importance of the written word, the more the industry itself benefits."
HarperCollins president and CEO Jane Friedman could not cite a specific book that was helped by the Quills, but said they were important because "we need everything we can to bring books to the attention of the public." Susan Peterson Kennedy, president of Penguin Group USA, also praised the Quills and noted, "What we saw (last year) is what happens at the beginning stage of an award, when much of the talk is among industry insiders."
Added Sonny Mehta, president of Alfred A. Knopf: "I'm in favor of any award that draws attention to books. I just wish all of them had the effect that the Booker Prize has on sales."
Byrne said the Quills will be promoted more extensively than last year, citing advertisements in USA Today, broad coverage on MSNBC.com and expanded promotion on NBC and in Parade magazine. At least 100 NBC stations, more than double the number from last year, will air the ceremony Oct. 28.