April 10, 2005 5:08 pm

Why there is a need for this award

Journalism in general – and business journalism in particular – is to a large degree the task of sorting the newsworthy from the commonplace, the interesting from the dull, so that busy readers learn what they need to learn as quickly and efficiently as possible.

That is one of the missions of the Financial Times and one of the reasons why we have decided to establish an annual award for the world’s best business book, with the generous backing of Goldman Sachs.

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In a market swamped with books by “get-rich-quick tipsters, motivational preachers and one-minute-solution merchants”, as our columnist Michael Skapinker has described them, there is an urgent need for an annual guide to the very best in a crowded field.

To cite the criteria for the award, the winner will be the book that provides “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, including management, finance and economics”.

This will be a tough task – in any year, thousands of “business books” that meet our definition are published, from lightweight self-help guides to hefty economic analyses. That is why we are delighted that we have assembled such a distinguished group of judges, with a wide range of expertise and interests, to help narrow the nominated books down to a shortlist of five or six by September. The winner will be announced at a gala dinner in London in November.

Of course, like all book prize judges, we would love to be able to identify the next business classic – perhaps written by a previously unknown author from China, India or another fast-expanding market for business books.

But our main hope is that the prize will encourage even sharper and more entertaining writing on the subjects FT readers and Goldman Sachs clients consider important. So many of the business books that cross our desks are ill-thought-out, derivative and, frankly, unreadable. The prize is, if nothing else, a spur to writers to raise their game.

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