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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 11:42 GMT
Whitbread ends book awards link
Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby is nominated for the novel A Long Way Down
Retail group Whitbread is to stop sponsoring its annual book awards because it no longer considers the association to be commercially viable.

The hotel and restaurant firm, which set up the awards in 1971, says it is pulling out because it no longer sells products using the Whitbread name.

It is looking to find a new sponsor for the book awards, which include the 25,000 book of the year prize.

The company will end its link after the 2005 winner is announced on 24 January.

The retail group, which operates a number of hospitality businesses, says it no longer considers the Whitbread name to be "a consumer-facing brand".

Whitbread sold its famous brewing business in 2000, and pulled out of running pubs the following year.

A spokeswoman said: "After long consideration, we decided our sponsorship was no longer commercially sensible, even under one of our other brand names.

Award nominees

"We are not about to let the awards just disappear and are certain we will find a sponsor as there are few opportunities like this."

Rachel Zadok
Nominee Rachel Zadok worked as a waitress while writing her novel

The awards are made up of five categories, including novel of the year, poetry and a children's book category, which are each worth 5,000.

The five category winners are shortlisted for the overall book of the year prize.

This year's nominees in the novel section include Nick Hornby and Salman Rushdie.

Rachel Zadok, a finalist on a publishing contest on TV's Richard and Judy show, is up for the first novel prize.

Novelist Andrea Levy won the 2004 main Whitbread Prize for Small Island.

Previous winners of the book of the year award include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman and Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes.

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