A cookery book takes the big prize at this year’s Singapore Book Awards, held online this year thanks to the pandemic. Storytel takes the Best Digital Marketing Campaign award

The Way of Kueh: Savouring and Saving Singapore’s Heritage Desserts, published by Epigram Books and acclaimed as “the first book to cover the history and culture of kueh in all its splendour and range”, is “beautifully written, produced, extensively researched and is truly accessible to neophytes as well as culinary experts. The bonus of course, is that this book is a cookbook as well.”

Or so concluded the Singapore Book Awards judges. Explaining that the criteria for the Singapore Book Awards ran beyond the routine focus on content, Peter Schoppert, President of the Singapore Book Publishers Association said:

The Singapore Book Awards recognise excellence in publishing, and consider not only the quality of the writing or artwork they contain, but the way the different elements have been brought together by the publisher, in book design, in production quality, in editing, and in the efforts publishers and authors make together to bring books to market, to gather the audience for every book and to ensure books have the impact intended.

No surprise then that alongside the Award for Best Ebook Title (which went to think! Additional Mathematics e-textbooks A and B (10th edition)), the judges gave a Special Mention in that category to Pustaka Nasional’s Adept Use of Technology in Creating Bilingual Resources, for demonstrating,

the advantages of the e-pub format to make the bilingual book work in ways that a printed book cannot, (adding) while Singaporeans often celebrate their country’s linguistic diversity, it is rare to find truly bilingual resources, books and events.

Storytel Singapore, a sponsor of the event, took the Award for Best Digital Marketing Campaign, although the Best Audiobook Title went to Penghuni Rumah Tua, narrated by Erul Samah and published by Pustaka Nasional.

For Storytel Singapore, Country manager Shalu Wasu said,

The Singapore Book Awards provide a great service to the publishing community in Singapore by recognising and rewarding the great work put in through the year. Storytel is proud to be a sponsor of the awards and a part of the energetic and passionate publishing community in Singapore.

Similar sentiments were expressed by co-sponsor Amazon Singapore’s Director and Country manager Henry Low, who said,

Our local authors and publishers play an integral role in capturing Singapore’s diverse culture and rich heritage. Amazon is proud to support the Singapore Book Awards, a celebration of our country’s literary works and the artistry of our publishing industry in a uniquely Singaporean way, and we are excited for these winning titles to be available on Amazon.sg.

The problem here being that, with bitter irony, Amazon Singapore does not have a Kindle store, nor a digital audiobook section, meaning that the Best Ebook and Best Audiobook are not available on Amazon SG, even from the “international store”.

Held online on the SBPA Facebook page and YouTube because of the pandemic, pre-recorded speeches were delivered by Ms Sim Ann, the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development as well as Ms Chonrungsee Chalermchaikit, President, the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT), which is the current President of the ASEAN Book Publishers Association (ABPA).

Despite Amazon’s indifference, Singapore is a vibrant digital books market, perhaps best evidenced in the 2019 OverDrive results, which saw the Singapore National Library Board record 4.2 million downloads. Not bad for a country of just 5.8 million people.