The Diagram Prize


Time to get topical as I plunder Wikipedia for the in depth scoop on The Diagram Prize, which was awarded to the book above only last week …

The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, commonly known as the Diagram Prize for short, is a humorous literary award that is given annually to the book deemed to have the oddest title. Originally organised to provide entertainment during the 1978 Frankfurt Book Fair, the prize has grown in recognition worldwide.

Controversy has dogged the awards; there have been two occasions when no award was given because no titles were judged to be odd enough, the judge has complained about some of the winners chosen by the public, and the 2008 winner, The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais, proved controversial because rather than being written by its listed author, it was instead written by an automated authoring algorythm which produces thousands of titles on the basis of Internet and database searches. Philip Stone, charts editor and awards administrator at The Bookseller, commented by saying: “I think it’s slightly controversial as it was written by a computer, but given the number of celebrity memoirs out there that are ghostwritten, I don’t think it’s too strange.”

The Diagram Prize receives considerable press coverage every year. In 2008, more people voted for the Diagram Prize (8,500 votes) than The Best of Booker Prize (7,800). The prize is either a magnum of champagne or a bottle of claret for the person who nominates the winning title, and increased publicity for both the book and its author.

“Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop” by Reginald Bakeley was awarded the 2013 Diagram Prize last Friday. The book won 38 percent of the public’s votes, beating finalists including “How Tea Cosies Changed the World,” “Was Hitler Ill?” and “God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis.”

People cannot nominate their own works, nor can they select books they publish themselves. Titles which are deliberately created to be funny are normally rejected. Also, nominators, judges and voters are actively discouraged from reading any of the nominations, “for fear that becoming too close to the work may cloud their judgement in declaring the text’s title ‘odd’. Especially considering the prize champions “odd titles’ and not ‘odd books’ (see the Man Booker for the latter)”.


List of all winners of the Diagram Prize:

1978 Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice Various authors
1979 The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution Barbara Sherman Heyl
1980 The Joy of Chickens Dennis Nolan
1981 Last Chance at Love – Terminal Romances Various authors
1982 Population and Other Problems: Family Planning, Housing 1,000 Million, Labour Employment Various authors
1983 Unsolved Problems of Modern Theory of Lengthwise Rolling A. I. Tselikov, G. S. Nikitin and S. E. Rokotyan
1984 The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History, and Its Role in the World Today Anne Wilson
1985 Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the Other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts Donald L. Wilson
1986 Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality Glenn C. Ellenbogen
1987 No Award
1988 Versailles: The View from Sweden Elaine Dee and Guy Walton
1989 How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art Kathleen Meyer
1990 Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual Pat Califia
1991 No award
1992 How to Avoid Huge Ships John W. Trimmer
1993 American Bottom Archaeology Charles J. Bareis and James W. Porter
1994 Highlights in the History of Concrete C. C. Stanley
1995 Reusing Old Graves: A Report on Popular British Attitudes Douglas Davies and Alastair Shaw
1996 Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers Derek Willan
1997 The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition Alex Comfort
1998 Developments in Dairy Cow Breeding: New Opportunities to Widen the Use of Straw Gareth Williams
1999 Weeds in a Changing World: British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings No. 64 Charles H. Stirton
2000 Designing High Performance Stiffened Structures IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers)
2001 Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service Gerard Forlin
2002 Living with Crazy Buttocks Kaz Cooke
2003 The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories Alisa Surkis and Monica Nolan
2004 Bombproof Your Horse Rick Pelicano and Lauren Tjaden
2005 People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It Gary Leon Hill
2006 The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification Julian Montague
2007 If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs Big Boom
2008 The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais Philip M. Parker
2009 Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes Daina Taimina
2010 Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way Michael R. Young
2011 Cooking with Poo Saiyuud Diwong
2012 Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop Bakeley Reginal



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About Author Profile: Worm

In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

6 thoughts on “The Diagram Prize

  1. Brit
    March 30, 2013 at 08:34

    Good to see the Dabblers represented on that list in 1998. Excellent work, Gaw.

      March 30, 2013 at 15:23

      I just knew that there was a skeleton in the Williams cupboard, now we know, celebrity has at last caught up. I see the IMechE have a prize, it used to be a difficult organisation to join, unless one had bridges named after oneself, that being the case, they didn’t join me. The wiki reason for no prize in 1987 is hogwash, it was cancelled due to the launch of the new five series at the Frankfurt motor show.

      Surprisingly, there is no award for the Argos catalogue, its part in the demise of LSD in post 1975 British culture.

    March 30, 2013 at 10:44

    The 1997 award is out of place and should have been given a prize for unintentional hilarity.

    March 31, 2013 at 16:28

    The Diagram Prize « The Dabbler

    April 1, 2013 at 12:50

    It is very cunning of you to date this 30 March, when surely 2006 at the very least – & only the fact I am using a touch screen type pad prevents me nominating several others – is a clear case of April Fool

    David Cohen
    April 2, 2013 at 04:57

    Is that the Joy of Sex Pocket Edition, or are you just happy to see me?

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