Independent Publisher Book Awards

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Independent Publisher Book Awards
Independent Publisher Book Awards logo.jpg
CountryUnited States
Presented byIndependent Publisher magazine & Jenkins Group
First awarded1996

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, also styled the IPPY Awards, are a set of annual book awards for independently published titles. They are the longest-running unaffiliated contest open exclusively to independent presses. The IPPY Awards are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. According to the IPPY website, the awards "reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing."[1]


The IPPY Awards were founded in 1996 by the Small Press publishing magazine. In 1998, Small Press became the Independent Publisher magazine, but continued to run the annual IPPY Awards. The IPPY's mission statement claims that the awards are intended to "recognize the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers, and bring them to the attention of booksellers, buyers, librarians, and book lovers around the world."[2] The IPPY criteria for an "independent" publication mandates that all entries must be from publications that are either 1) independently owned and operated, 2) operated by a foundation or university, or 3) long-time independents that became incorporated but operate autonomously and publish fewer than 50 titles a year. [3]

The first IPPY awards received 325 entries and awarded 90 gold, silver, and bronze medals. [4] In 2020, over 3,000 books were entered into the IPPYs, and 422 medals were awarded. In 25 years, IPPY entry categories have expanded from the 28 available in 1996 to more than a hundred options in 2020, including separate categories for specific genres, regions, and E-books.

Entry and prize consideration[edit]

Entry is chargeable. In 2020, the entry fee was $85. Entry discounts for regional and E-book categories are often available. For the 25th anniversary IPPY Awards in 2021, a $25 off discount was available for early submissions.

Entries are judged based on first impression, design, originality, use of language, message delivery, and relevance. [5] IPPY medalists receive certificates, medals, and book sticker seals. They also have the option to purchase additional merchandise, including plaques, electronic images, and additional medals and seals.

About 2,400 publishers throughout the English-speaking world participate in the awards each year. In 2017 the contest drew over 5,000 entries, and medals were awarded to authors and publishers from 43 U.S. states, seven Canadian provinces and 15 countries.[6] In 2020, medals were awarded to authors and publishers from all 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian provinces, and 61 countries.

Outstanding Book of the Year[edit]

In 2010, the IPPYs introduced additional "Outstanding Book of the Year" awards. Every IPPY submission is considered for an Outstanding Book award, regardless of category. The outstanding medalists are chosen for exemplifying "daring spirit" with a book that is "the most heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental among all entries."[7] In 2020, there were eleven Outstanding Books in eight categories:

  • Most Original Concept
  • Best Book Arts Craftsmanship
  • Most Outstanding Design
  • Most Likely to Save the Planet
  • Independent Spirit Award
  • Independent Voice Award
  • Freedom Fighter
  • Peacemaker

Notable Outstanding Books of the Year include Peter KalmusBeing the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, which was named 2018’s Most Likely To Save the Planet, as well as Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, 2014’s Most Original Concept.


Books by IPPY winners in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were published by university presses including Princeton, Stanford,[8] Yale, Wisconsin, Iowa, and other major university presses. Among the fiction gold medalists was Elena Ferrante's The Story of the Lost Child, originally published in Italy and issued in English by Europa.

Previous winners in fiction categories include the small presses Milkweed, Coffee House, Graywolf, The Other Press, McPherson, Europa, and McSweeney's. IPPY Gold Medal winner Lord of Misrule also won the National Book Award and The Patience Stone also won France's Prix Goncourt for its French edition. David Eggers won a 2003 Outstanding Book of the Year for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.[9] Margaret Atwood won in 2003 for Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. Juan Felipe Herrera, the United States Poet Laureate, won an IPPY gold medal in 2005 for Featherless (Desplumado). Randal Graham won in 2018 the IPPY gold medal in fantasy fiction for Beforelife.[10] David Pietrusza won the 2023 IPPY Gold Medal for US History.

Categories and regions[edit]

General Categories:[11]

  1. Fine Art
  2. Performing Arts (Music/Dance/Cinema/Theater)
  3. Photography
  4. Architecture
  5. Coffee Table Books
  6. Popular Fiction
  7. Literary Fiction
  8. Short Story Fiction
  9. Poetry - Standard
  10. Poetry - Specialty
  11. Anthologies
  12. Juvenile Fiction
  13. Young Adult Fiction
  14. Fantasy
  15. Science Fiction
  16. LGBT+ Fiction
  17. Erotica
  18. Historical Fiction
  19. Military/Wartime Fiction
  20. Horror
  21. Multicultural Fiction
  22. Multicultural Fiction – Juv-Young Adult
  23. Mystery/Cozy/Noir
  24. Suspense/Thriller
  25. Religious Fiction
  26. Romance
  27. Urban Fiction
  28. Visionary / New Age Fiction
  29. True Crime
  30. Graphic Novel/Drawn Book
  31. Humor
  32. Children's Picture Books (7 & Under)
  33. Children's Picture Books (All ages)
  34. Children's Interactive
  35. Juvenile-Young Adult Non-Fiction
  36. Multicultural N-F Juv-Young Adult
  37. Multicultural Non-Fiction Adult
  38. Essay
  39. Creative Non-Fiction
  40. Autobiography/Memoir I (Celebrity/Political/Romance)
  41. Autobiography/Memoir II (Coming of Age/Family Legacy/Travel)
  42. Autobiography/Memoir III (Personal Struggle/Health Issues)
  43. Biography
  44. Aging/Death & Dying
  45. Animals/Pets
  46. Business/Career/Sales
  47. Cookbooks – General
  48. Cookbooks – Specialty
  49. Current Events I (Political/Economic/Foreign Affairs)
  50. Current Events II (Social Issues/Humanitarian)
  51. Education I (Workbook/Resource)
  52. Education II (Commentary/Theory)
  53. Nature
  54. Environment/Ecology
  55. Finance/Investment/Economics
  56. LGBT+ Non-Fiction
  57. Gift/Specialty/Journal
  58. Holiday
  59. Health/Medicine/Nutrition
  60. History (U.S.)
  61. History (World)
  62. Home/Garden/Crafts
  63. Inspirational/Spiritual
  64. New Age/Mind-Body-Spirit
  65. Parenting
  66. Popular Culture
  67. Psychology/Mental Health
  68. Sports/Fitness/Recreation
  69. Reference
  70. Religion (Eastern/Western)
  71. Science
  72. Self Help
  73. Sexuality/Relationships
  74. Transportation (Auto/Aviation/Railroad, etc.)
  75. Travel – Essay
  76. Travel – Guidebook
  77. Women's Issues
  78. Writing/Publishing
  79. Book/Author/Publisher Website
  80. Cover Design – Fiction
  81. Cover Design – Non-Fiction
  82. Cover Design – Non-Fiction Oversize
  83. Best First Book – Fiction
  84. Best First Book – Non-Fiction
  85. Book Series - Fiction
  86. Book Series - Non-Fiction (note: Book Series category submissions require at least two volumes, with one volume's copyright/release date falling within the 2018–2020 time frame)[when?]
  87. Audiobook - Fiction
  88. Audiobook - Non-Fiction

E-Book Categories

  1. Best Adult Fiction E-Book
  2. Best Romance/Erotica E-Book
  3. Best Mystery/Thriller E-Book
  4. Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book
  5. Best Adult Non-Fiction Personal E-Book
  6. Best Adult Non-Fiction Informational E-Book
  7. Best Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction E-Book
  8. Best Children's Illustrated E-Book
  9. Best Regional E-Book – Fiction
  10. Best Regional E-Book – Non-Fiction
  11. Best E-Book Design

Regional Categories (Awards for "Best Fiction" and "Best Non-Fiction" in each region)

  1. Northeast (ME, VT, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY)
  2. Mid- Atlantic (PA, WV, VA, DE, MD, DC, NJ)
  3. Southeast (KY, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL)
  4. South (MS, LA, AR, TX, TN)
  5. Great Lakes (OH, MI, IN, IL, WI)
  6. Midwest (MN, IA, MO, OK, KS, NE, SD, ND)
  7. West-Mountain (MT, WY, UT, CO, NM, AZ, ID, NV)
  8. West-Pacific (CA, OR, WA, HI, AK)
  9. Canada-East (ON, QB, NF, NB, NS, PE, Nunavut)
  10. Canada-West (BC, AB, SK, MB, NW Territories, Yukon)
  11. Australia/New Zealand/Pacific Rim
  12. Europe


The IPPY Awards were criticized by Writer Beware, an advocacy website sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), which stated that it was one of several profiteer awards run by the Jenkins Group and that "Even among profiteers, however, Jenkins is unusual in the amount of extra merchandise it hawks to winners."[12][13] The site classified profiteer awards as awards that are aimed at "making money for the sponsor. Such awards aren't really about honoring writers at all."[12]


  1. ^ "ABOUT". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  2. ^ "History". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  3. ^ "Independent Publisher Book Awards". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  4. ^ "History". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  5. ^ "Judging Criteria". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  6. ^ "Local Author's Book Named 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medalist". Teaneck, NJ Patch. 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  7. ^ "2020 Outstanding". Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  8. ^ Webmaster. "Stanford University Press Awards". Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  9. ^ "IPPY | Book awards | LibraryThing". Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  10. ^ Independent Publisher (2018). "2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards General Results". Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  11. ^ "Categories". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  12. ^ a b "Writer Beware®: The Blog: Awards Profiteers: How Writers Can Recognize and Avoid Them". Writer Beware. 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  13. ^ "Writer Beware®: The Blog: Victoria Strauss—2008 Indie Book Awards". Writer Beware. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2019-07-17.