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For the best novel published by an organized publishing house: The ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ award

Article No 9275

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Posted on September 10, 2010 by Writer

Piyasena WICKRAMAGE

No; ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ or the Golden Book for a novel, means Rupees 500,000 cash reward too with the trophy!

So the fourth ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ award will be held in the year 2010 at the BMICH on September 10 at 5.30 pm. Sinhala novelists during the last three years were recipients of this prestigious award which began in 2007.

During the first year of the ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ awards ceremony, five finalists were rewarded equally a sum of Rupees Rs. 100,000. As no novel was supreme from another.

Sixty-two novels were published in year 2006. And out of these, twelve novels were short listed – for the first round by the first panel of judges comprising 14 members.

During the second stage, five finalists were nominated for the last round; Out of these five finalists, the recipient of the ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ award among whom the cash prize of Rs 500,000 will be distributed has to be selected. The first round of selections were made by a panel of fourteen members who were from various representations of the book world except book publishers!

The second selection panel comprised five members who were more of an advanced standing. The final supreme panel were responsible for naming the best novel of the year – (the Golden Book) out of the five novels nominated by the second selection panel. These five were mainly scholars of universities and some eminent persons of various social strata.

All in all there was transparency – no one was influenced in whatever manner for the selection of novel or novels at any stage of the process.

“Our main strategy was to promote the Best Novel of the Year to do the maximum number of copies in order to encourage the writers, the publishers and above all to guide readers to buy the best quality product – the publication or the book – with an understanding…” – a former President, on two occasions, and now the treasurer of the Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association, H D Premasiri told the Daily News, as he explained the program.

The results seen in the following years:

In 2007: Number of novels published – 68

In 2008: Number of novels published – 76

In 2009: Number of novels published – 80

A basic standard set apart for these novels was, all novels should be published books of an organized publishing house! This paved the way to create a professional standard for the published books – as the Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association comprises organized book publishers!

The Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association (SLBPA) completes a continuous forty five years of professional organization in Sri Lanka.

SLBPA pioneered in organizing the Colombo International Book Fair (CIBF) in 1998 and holds the most prestigious – the best organized book exhibition in the South-East region of Asia for the twelfth successive year at the BMICH from September 18 to 26.

With the advent of open economy, the most lavish printing machinery and equipment was freely available to publishers. The book market has overflowed with the number of titles published each year.

The Cultural Affairs Ministry introduced a special state literary award for the publisher, who published the maximum number of books each year from the eighties.

The SLBPA in order to introduce more quality books, in a way has been a pioneer in task to uplifting the quality of books through the ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ annual award for the best novel and four other novels. SLBPA is rewarding the best five novels of the final round with a cash reward of Rupees 50,000 each.

The best novel nominated as the ‘Golden Book’ receives the special prize of Rupees five hundred thousand plus the trophy of ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ as a recognition of supremacy among others.

The Sinhala as well as English and Tamil book publishers are always considered as a ‘money maker’ (a ‘mudalali’) out of the poor writers skills.

The SLBPA has been able to change this image to a more professional standard.

The selection of manuscripts, editing, designing, planning, marketing and book promotion plus the toughest process of selling more copies of books including the reaching out to the public in far beyond remote areas – all these are a publisher’s tasks.

‘Swarna Pusthaka’ or the Golden Book award for the best novel has paved the way to sell more copies of an accepted novel with an authority.

I came to know some novels sales figure reached the height of ten thousand copies – if the figure is accurate.

The reading public, the book sellers, the librarians all connected with the book world must be thankful to SLBPA with all these programs to uplift the professional standard of book publishing production in Sri Lanka.

The Cultural Ministry’s State Literary Award, earlier than that the Don Pediric Literary award for best novel (1955-56 – pioneered by a philanthropist), D R Wijewardena award for the best unpublished novel (established in 1985), the Godage Sahitya awards (sponsored by Godage Brothers Publishers), the Vidyodaya Literary awards organized by the Sri Jayawardenepura University are leading annual literary award ceremonies prevailing in Sri Lanka – for the Sinhala Book Publishing Industry.

With the advent of SLBP’s ‘Golden Book’ (the best novel published in Sinhala annually by an organized publishing house in Sri Lanka) – paved the way to most grandeur literary event in Sri Lanka with the highest cash prize for a Sinhala novel.

The SLBPA has become a national organization going beyond its commercial enterprise process. Thanks to the energetic book publishers, who has combined in a team spirit for a worthy national cause.

The writer is a pioneering member of the SLBPA. pwickramage@ymail.com

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