Innovative Bookseller Claims the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize
Miriam Robinson, who has risen from bookseller to Head of Marketing at Foyles in less than four years, was tonight named the winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2013.
The award, which celebrates both the professional achievements and promise of women in publishing, was announced at a ceremony packed with publishers and industry professionals at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon.
Joan Smith, human rights activist, journalist and novelist, gave the keynote speech before Denise Johnstone-Burt, co-chair of the Kim Scott Walwyn Committee, awarded Miriam with her Prize. The Prize, worth £1000, is sponsored by the Society of Young Publishers and also includes a two-day course of Robinson's choice, courtesy of the Publishing Training Centre.
Before embarking on a career in publishing, Miriam completed a degree at the University of Virginia in English and French Literature, and then taught English to University students in China. Upon her return to the States, Miriam completed a Publishing Certificate Programme in New York, before travelling again - this time to Paris, where she secured an internship at the well-reputed Shakespeare & Company.
This placement eventually brought Miriam to London, and she joined the fiction department of Foyles on Charing Cross Road in 2007. In just four years she has worked her way up to her current role, as Foyles' Head of Marketing. Within this position Miriam has been able to deploy her creativity and passion for bookselling, as well as championing original initiatives and orchestrating hugely successful debut events.
Denise Johnstone-Burt, co-chair of Prize Advisory Committee and the judging panel said:
'Miriam Robinson is an outstanding winner from a superb shortlist. Her enthusiasm for book-selling has already had a resounding impact, not just on Foyles but on the trade as a whole, and her spirited innovation and commitment give confidence that there is indeed a great future for the high street book shop.'
Viv Bird, Chief Executive of Book Trust, who managed the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize added:
'Miriam's innovative, forward-thinking approach as well as her passion for the bricks and mortar bookshop make her a well-deserved winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn award. The launch of the Charing Cross Road Festival, in particular, shows that she has the creativity and drive to push the success of high street bookselling in a challenging environment. I am delighted that Miriam has won this prestigious award for women in publishing.'
Miriam joins an impressive list of Prize alumni including: last year's winner Rukhsana Yasmin, Editor at Saqi Books; Kay Peddle, Editor at the Bodley Head; Kathy Rooney, Managing Director of Bloomsbury Publishing; Clare Alexander, Literary Agent at Aitken Alexander Associates; Annette Thomas, CEO of Macmillan; Penelope Hoare, Deputy Managing Director at Chatto & Windus (although now semi-retired); and the inaugural winner Lynette Owen OBE, Copyright Director of Pearson Education.
Andrew Turner, former chair of the SYP and member of the judging panel, commented:
'I was blown away by Miriam's passion and dedication to bookselling. Her desire to do all she can to promote the bookshop in the current age of digital sales and Amazon is something the book industry should praise and look to emulate. She has managed to take the negative impact of things out of her control and create unique and successful events out of them. Her creativity and passion should be an inspiration to us all.'
The Prize was founded in honour of Kim Scott Walwyn, a Publishing Director at Oxford University Press, who died in 2002 at the age of 45. She was an outstanding editor and a generous and inspirational manager whose career was widely recognised and celebrated during her life. The Prize, which has been awarded seven times, is open to any woman who has worked in publishing in the UK for up to seven years. It is managed by Book Trust and sponsored by the SYP and PTC.
Miriam fought off strong competition from the 2013 diverse shortlist, who each received a one-day training course at the PTC. They were:
- Laura Austin -Founder of Bookmachine, Ebook, Marketing & Account Manager, YUDU Media
- Juliet Mushens -Literary Agent at the Agency Group
- Laura Palmer - Co-founder & Editorial Director at Head of Zeus
The full line-up of judges for the 2013 Prize is:
- (Co-chair) Catherine Clarke - literary agent and managing director, Felicity Bryan Agency
- (Co-chair) Denise Johnstone-Burt - publisher, Walker Books
- Nicola Crossley - SYP vice-chair 2010; Trade Non Fiction, Orion Books
- Andrew Turner - SYP vice-chair and treasurer 2013; Nelson Croom
- Rukhsana Yasmin - winner of the 2012 Prize and commissioning editor at Saqi/The Westbourne Press/Telegram