The dawn of the bookie prize

Today's announcement of the Desmond Elliott prize shortlist places as much importance on the bookmakers' odds as the books themselves

While some things are worth doing solely because they are worth doing, others are worth doing because you can win money. Into the latter group fall, without controversy, black jack, horse racing and watching the Eurovision song contest. Into the former group fall chess, bicycle racing, and art. Most things, though, fall somewhere in-between, including bridge, football, and writing books and submitting them to distinguished panels for comparative assessment.

With the number of literary awards and bookish bonanzas growing every day, the introduction of a little action into the proceedings seems like a good bet for increased publicity. Indeed, when it comes to the promotion of literary awards these days, if William Hill haven't opened a book on it, the chances are the PR department isn't doing its job properly...

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