2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the Diagram Prize, the momentous annual contest to determine the oddest book title of the year. Established in 1978 by book packagers the Diagram Group, the prize is a joyous celebration of the barmy side of publishing. Baffling titles such as Bombproof Your Horse, How to Avoid Huge Ships and People Who Don't Know They're Dead have all been recipients of this glittering prize. Who could forget classic winners such as Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers or The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories? Who could fail to be inspired by titles such as Highlights in the History of Concrete and Weeds in a Changing World? British publishers and booksellers compete fiercely to get their suggested titles on to the short list, before the final winner is voted for by readers of the Bookseller. And the fame of the Diagram Prize has stretched beyond the book trade, with blanket coverage from national newspapers and the BBC. While rival literary awards have sold out, the Diagram Prize has refused all offers of corporate sponsorship for 30 years.
The Costa and Man Booker may receive the lion's share of media attention, but the Diagram is privately considered the one that really matters. There was even a 'Diagram of Diagrams' in 1993, the well-deserved winner being Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery has all the makings of a quirky humour bestseller.show more