2014 Nebula Award: The Cost of the Nebulas
When discussing these awards, it’s important to point out some of the problems with them. Since the Nebula is voted on by the members of the SFWA, we can ask an obvious question: how many members actually have the time/money to read/buy all these texts?
The Nebula nominates at least six books, but if there are ties they can expand that number. This year, there were eight. Here’s a chart detailing the length and cost of the books, as of when they were nominated:
These numbers are a little inflated. The price are list prices, and you can save yourself money by ordering online or getting e-books. The page lengths are the lengths reported by publishers, and they pump those up by including front and back mater. Still, we’re looking at close to $100 and 3000 pages of reading—who has the time for that kind of investment?
Nominations were announced February 25th, and SFWA members had until March 30th to vote. Unless a Nebula reader had already tackled most of the nominees before the announcement (and were a good guesser at what would be nominated!), it’s nearly impossible to do that amount of reading in a month.
The result: the lesser known books are doubtless ignored or skipped by most voters, and they end up making a choice between the 2-3 Nebula nominees they’ve already read that year. This is why there are so many repeat winners: voters vote for the books and authors they know because they simply don’t have the time fully explore the other nominees. And this is only one category—the Nebula nominates novellas, short stories, and YA books. It’s a near impossible task for voters to sift through that amount material in one month.
A more concise list of nominations and a longer amount of time between nominations/voting would definitely help with this problem.