The Folio Prize is in search of a new financial benefactor and, consequently, a new name, following the decision of the Folio Society not to renew its title sponsorship of the award. The literary award, which was presented in its first two years of existence under the Folio Society’s name, hopes to continue, and is currently in search of a new sponsor that will allow it to present its 2016 winner with a £40,000 prize.
When the award was first announced following the controversy surrounding the 2011 Booker Prize shortlist, it was known as the Literature Prize, open to any variety of English-language fiction published in the UK in a given year, regardless of genre, form or country of origin. By the time its framework was in place in early 2013, sponsorship from the Folio Society had been secured, accompanied by the change in name. The patronage of the society saw the prize through the presentation of its first two awards, to George Saunders in 2014 for his short story collection Tenth of December and to Akhil Sharma earlier this year for his novel Family Life.
The Folio Society’s marketing director, Jean Marc Rathé, says of the move (per The Bookseller):
Following the success of the second annual Folio Prize, The Folio Society has taken the decision not to renew its sponsorship of the Prize. There are many opportunities that we look forward to in the world of fine book publishing, and now that our ambition of ensuring the successful launch and firm establishment of the Prize on the literary scene has been fulfilled, we feel it is time to move towards these new opportunities. We celebrate the Prize and we are certain that it will thrive and grow under new sponsorship in the years to come.
The prize’s co-founder, Andrew Kidd, adds:
I think because of the changes at The Folio Society and the departure of Toby Hartwell and the sad death of Bob Gavron we weren’t hugely surprised […] It was a big commitment and outlay to support the prize. Prizes at this level tend to be supported by larger entities. We felt fortunate to have The Folio Society on board; they were a wonderful partner because they were like minded. We always felt in terms of a longer term ambition it was going to be a big ask.
Kidd avers the prize is exploring ‘multiple channels’ and hopes to secure funding quickly enough so as not to disrupt the timetable for the 2016 award, with an eye toward ‘a longer term commitment’ than that provided by the Folio Society.