As we spent the past few months examining thousands of books sent to our office here in Traverse City, Michigan, and narrowing them down to these INDIES Book of the Year Awards finalists, we found that we could easily move many of them around from genre to genre. I think this is a great trend, this blurring of lines between traditional categories. And the independent publishing community is best equipped to deal with it.
My managing editor, Michelle Anne Schingler, and I have a running argument going over the difference between science fiction and fantasy. I say that if there are fairies, it’s fantasy. If those fairies come from another planet (or travel through time), it’s science fiction. But they are two of the few genres that do not cross. (Yes, I can feel Michelle rolling her eyes at this).
So, while Michelle and I could get into fistfights over sci-fi vs. fantasy, it’s increasingly an even sillier argument than it seems. I don’t think a book should be any one thing. So, bring on the religious LGBT mystery science fiction. Or the true-crime history biography book of philosophy. These cross-categories might confuse booksellers, librarians, and book reviewers, but I think most readers enjoy the surprise inherent in cross-pollination of genres.
Discovering these dynamic books from the indie publishing world, and then moving them on to our panel of expert judges, was one of the joys of the book award process this year. It was great to see the innovation going on among small publishers, taking chances that the big corporate McBook companies lack the will and imagination to take.
Feel free to browse all the categories and finalists for 2016, and we’ll announce the winners during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. We’ll also give out special awards for fiction and nonfiction editor’s choice and publisher of the year. Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to all finalists.
Howard Lovy is executive editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow him on Twitter @Howard_Lovy