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Diagram Prize shortlist 2009


The 2009 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Title of the Year

The winner of the 2009 Diagram Prize has now been announced

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Dr Daina Taimina (A K Peters) has won the 2009 Diagram Prize, having received the majority of the public vote for the oddest titled book of the year at

Taking 42% of the votes cast, it beat off competition from What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua? By Tara Jansen-Meyer (Mirror), which took 30% and Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich by James A Yannes (Trafford), with 11%.

Horace Bent of the Bookseller magazine’s said: “Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes proved to be the initial front runner. It defended its poll-topping position despite strong support for the spoon-carrying Third Reich, once again attempting to muscle in on someone else’s territory. But the public proclivity towards non-Euclidian needlework proved too great for the Third Reich to overcome. If only someone had let the Poles know in ’39.

Bent added: “I confess that when the credit crunch began to bite British publishing, I feared for the future of this most prestigious of literary awards. Surely oddly-titled books would suffer in a climate that was prompting publishers to focus on more bankable works—like frankly lamentable biographies of Z-list ‘celebrities’ and those depressing white books with doleful children on the cover.

“But I am delighted that I was being overly pessimistic and that oddly-titled books proved recession-resistant. I believe Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes is a worthy champion to stand alongside the likes of Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers and Living with Crazy Buttocks as winners of this distinguished award.”
  It looks like it's going to be another strong year.

My favourite competition of the year is run by columnist Horace Bent in the Bookseller (the UK book trade weekly) with input from dedicated odd title hunters from all over the world. He received a record number of submissions in 2009, with 90 books suggested to 2008’s 32 The prize, set up in association with the Diagram Group, has been running since 1978 and is a joyous celebration of the barmy side of publishing.

So here's the shortlist:

* David Crompton's Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter (Glenstrae Press)
* James A Yannes' Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich (Trafford)
* Daina Taimina's Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes (A K Peters)
* Ronald C Arkin's Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots (CRC Press)
* Ellen Scherl and Maria Dubinsky's The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (SLACK Inc)
* Tara Jansen-Meyer's What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua? (Mirror)


The winner will be announced on 26th March.

© Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. 2010