BookAwardz app keeps your eye on the prize

The BookAwardz app ($2.99) organizes titles that have won major literary prizes.
The BookAwardz app organizes titles that have won major literary prizes.

The BookAwardz app (iOS and Android, $2.99) helps bibliophiles keep track of the finalists and winners of major literary prizes. 

From the home screen, you can choose the Pulitzer Prizes; the National Book Awards; the PEN/Faulkner; Britain’s Man Booker; the Edgar (for mystery novel); and two children’s prizes, the Caldecott and the Newbery.

When you select one of those prizes, the next screen presents a long list of finalists and winners reaching back to each award’s first presentation. (In the case of the Pulitzer, that’s all the way back to Ernest Poole’s immortal novel “His Family” in 1918.) Touch any title, and you’ll see the book’s cover, a short description and a link to the book’s page on the social medial site GoodReads, where you can find more information and reader comments. (GoodReads is owned by Amazon, whose founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)  The program allows users to save titles to a wish list, which is handy when visiting the library or bookstore.

This is a fairly limited and static app that presents information you can access on Wikipedia and each award’s Web site. But I was more disappointed by the app’s scope. Although BookAwardz includes more than 2,600 titles, it doesn’t keep track of many prizes. The National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Nobel are the most obvious omissions. Where are the Hugo, Pushcart, Lambda, Spur, RITA, O. Henry and many other awards? For the relatively high price of $2.99, I expect access to scores of interesting prizes around the English-speaking world. (Strangely, the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels and the Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels are included.)

BookAwardz is the work of Alan Zisser, who once worked for Apple as a product manager. An avid reader, he wanted an app that would provide “a quick and easy reference when trying to figure out what to read next. Zisser says he’ll update the list as new finalists and winners are announced. 

BookAwardz is easy to use and handy, so far as it goes, but its focus is too narrow to recommend enthusiastically.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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